Different factors may exist that make grants for higher education available at most colleges and universities for minorities in the United States. In some cases, hardships such as poverty, coming from large families with limited resources or having parents who do not speak English may put some minorities at a disadvantage. As a way to level the playing field, a variety of college and university grants are available to provide an opportunity to receive an education. In turn, minorities are positioned to qualify for careers that can improve their quality of life.
Minority grants are typically available based on your financial need. In this respect, minority grants differ from scholarships, which usually awards financial assistance based on grades. Minority grant programs concentrate on the challenges that underrepresented students may face in receiving a college degree.
Grant Options and Categories
In general, there are two categories that may apply to grants for minority students: ethnic and non-ethnic. The ethnic minority grants provide financial assistance based on life challenges. The sources for this type of funding may also consider diversifying educational institutions and professional fields.
Non-ethnic minority grants are essentially for students that may have physical barriers that present challenges to pursuing higher education. The types of disabilities that these grants support may include learning disabilities such as attention deficit disorder (ADD) or autism.
Many foundations and government agencies throughout the United States offer ethnic and non-ethnic minority grants. The funds support a broad range of industries, businesses and research opportunities. Each program has specific requirements that you must meet in order to receive funding.
Where to Find Minority Grants
The most proactive sources for minority grants are with federal and state government programs. Need-based aid is typically available to low-income and minority students across the country. Socioeconomic and political purposes may affect availability, but the ultimate goal in government funding is to improve the economy and help foster self-sustaining communities of productive citizens.
The most popular federal and state grants include the Pell Grant, the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG), the National SMART Grant, and the Academic Competitiveness Grant.
While these programs are not particularly earmarked for minorities, each one helps to pay college tuition and expenses where personal resources are lacking. The majority of these grant programs are used by minority and disabled students.
Corporations Offering College Grants
In addition to federal and state grants, foundations and some large corporations offer financial assistance to minorities. Many well-known foundations such as the Hispanic College Fund, American Indian College Fund, the United Negro College Fund and the Bureau of Indian Affairs have both grants and scholarships available to qualifying minority students.
Large corporations offer competitive grants for minority students. Providing financial assistance to minority students can help to produce future workers for many of these corporations. Often, such corporations are committed to developing a diverse workforce and willingly spend millions of dollars to support education.
International organizations may also have grant programs.
How to Qualify for Minority Grants
Each year, a high number of grant funds and scholarships go unclaimed by minority students. This may occur simply because of a lack of knowledge of the types of programs available. Qualifying for these programs first begins with being identified as a minority member of the supported group.
You can learn how to qualify for each program by researching the types of grants available to minority students. If you are already enrolled in a college or university, check with the student financial aid office at your school for a list of programs.
Each grant or scholarship program may have varying requirements to qualify. However, most require current enrollment or the intent to enroll in a college or university. Some programs require you to maintain a certain GPA (grade point average) in order to receive funding on a continual basis. Additionally, some may require you to apply each academic year.
Gates Millennium Scholars
For example, the Gates Millennium Scholars is a program started by Bill and Melinda Gates. This program offers scholarship awards to low-income minority students that have potential and a high motivation to pursue higher learning opportunities. Students who receive this scholarship have demonstrated an excellence in academics and leadership potential.
The Gates Millennium Scholars program gives minority students a tuition-free education at a college of their choice. In addition, funding is available to students who pursue advanced degrees in areas such as education or public health.
State Specific Options
States may also offer grants to residents in the state and have specific requirements to qualify. Individual school grants are another source for all students.
To qualify for individual school or state grants, factors such income level and other financial aid sources may affect the amount for which you qualify. In some cases, private institutions that have large endowments may have more funds available to all students. For example, Boston College offers an Asian American Scholarship to seniors that total more than $15,000.
Minority Grants for Underrepresented Fields
Many of the most resourceful grant programs are with private and public organizations that support underrepresented fields of minority groups. These programs typically support a specific field or industry such as technology, engineering, math, science, medicine and business.
Many professional organizations and associations want to nurture minority participation in these fields, so they make funding available on a continual basis. In the past, these fields have been dominated by white males and lacked support for minorities that wished to pursue nontraditional careers. The following are a few examples of the types of programs available to students.
College sophomores and juniors may qualify to receive the Barry Goldwater Scholarship Grant. This program is offered to students majoring in mathematics or science fields. Students are expected to have an above average GPA. Additionally, special consideration is given to students who plan to pursue advanced degrees in mathematics or science.
The Ford Foundation has a pre-doctoral fellowship for minorities who are interested in careers in engineering, math or science. The program has a particular interest also to encourage women to pursue these fields.
To support African-American nurses, the National Black Nurses Association (NBNA) provides educational and professional services to African-American nurses. The services within this organization are for nurses as well as students who are pursuing a nursing degree. NBNA has dozens of scholarships and grants to assist undergraduate students enrolled in a four-year nursing program at an accredited college or university. Students may qualify for award amounts ranging from $500 to $2,000 each academic year.
Women and minority students enrolled in pre-doctoral programs might be eligible to receive the National Physical Science Consortium fellowship.
This fellowship is for women and minorities in order to diversify the physical sciences field. Students will also need to have a minimum 3.0 GPA and goals to pursue a career in astronomy, chemistry, math, geology or computer science.
National Science Foundation
A similar fellowship – the National Science Foundation – offers awards through the Women in Engineering and Computer and Information Science Award. These funds are available for women enrolled in engineering, computer science, math or science programs.
Minorities and women in New York may also qualify for the Regent’s Healthcare Scholarship for Medicine and Dentistry. Residents may receive grant funds to attend medical or dental school. To qualify, students must apply to a program in New York and agree to work in a health care facility that provides care for underserved populations in the state.
Special Minority Grants for Women
Women in the United States have made tremendous gains in the workforce. However, there are still a few areas in which women lag behind their male counterparts. As a result, minority grants are available to encourage more participation by women in underrepresented careers.
Some statistics show that more women than men complete undergraduate degrees, but may not have the tools and resources readily available to support nontraditional roles and interests. Further, minority women experience an even more unbalanced situation.
This paves the way for private women’s colleges to thrive in support of women who want to pursue nontraditional careers. Many women’s college campuses include activities and interests that may appeal to a broad range of fields. Additionally, many of these institutions have large resources from private donations. These funds can support the education of students who come from dire economically challenged backgrounds.
To parallel efforts at women’s colleges, many professional business associations are actively supporting educational opportunities for women. The focus has increased to programs that may offer more opportunities for leadership roles, which were largely unavailable to women in the past. Corporations realize the value of having women in senior level positions and want to encourage more participation.
Women Enrollment Options
Generally, more women are enrolling in educational programs that support nontraditional roles. Also, older women are returning to school after years of raising children. Professional women may also return to school to prepare for career advancements. In support of these trends, many organizations also offer minority grants.
One of the most active organizations that support women is the American Association of University Women (AAUW). The AAUW supports minority women by supporting ongoing academic and professional activities. Those who are most economically disadvantaged receive special preference for grants. Women returning to college after raising a family, or to pursue a different career, may also receive grants from the AAUW.
The Educational Foundation for Women in Accounting awards grants to women who are pursuing a degree in finance or accounting. Funding may cover programs that support an associates, bachelors or master’s degree in either program. Students may receive funding based on merit and financial need.
The American Society of Women Accountants is another program that offers grants and scholarships to female finance or accounting majors. Funds are for associates, bachelors or master’s degrees. Additionally, this program offers small grants to obtain industry certifications.
Wellesley College has the Davis Program for nontraditional students. Working women or those returning to the workforce after an extended period away may qualify for this grant program.
Some segments of the female population may have additional contributing factors that may present obstacles to achieving educational and career goals. Some women are victims of domestic abuse, are single mothers or come from disadvantaged backgrounds. These situations may cause some women to not have the financial, social or family support for college. Many programs exist throughout the country.
Options for Minority Women
For disadvantaged and minority women, the Business and Professional Women’s Association focuses on the monetary needs of these women in pursuing higher education. Assistance is available for women reentering the workforce, or those who are beyond the traditional age of college attendance.
The Jeanette Rankin Foundation is a popular program that provides grants to women who are over 35 and enrolled in a professional or technical program for an associates or bachelors degree. To receive funding, students must show a dire economic need while in school.
Special Funds for Domestic Abuse Victims
Women who are victims of domestic abuse or who are single mothers may also qualify for special grant funding. It is commonly believed that single mothers are disadvantaged by some welfare regulations. In some states, financial aid is defined as income and makes single mother ineligible to receive welfare while pursuing a college degree. As a result, some single mothers may not be able to attend college, which could position them to qualify for increased earnings potential.
Raise the Nation Programs
To help some single mothers overcome this catch-22 situation, Raise the Nation and the Women’s Independence Scholarship programs are available to assist single mothers in pursuing educational and career opportunities that will lead to a better economic future.
Raise the Nation in a nonprofit organization that offers a continuing education grant to single mothers based on financial need. This organization also has a loan repayment assistance program for women who have limited funds for repaying student loans. To qualify, women must have a track record of volunteer or community service activities.
The Women’s Independence Scholarship Program offers educational grants to female victims of domestic abuse.
Native American Minority Grants
In order to qualify for college grants that target Native Americans, you have to provide proof of your Certification of Indian Blood (CIB). Additionally, you must belong to a recognized Native American tribe. Unfortunately, most descendents of Native Americans do not have proof because of name changes and a lack of documentation.
If you can provide proof and also have a CIB, you may qualify for several federal minority grant programs such as the Indian Adult Education, Minority Science and Engineering Improvement, the Diabetes Prevention and Treatment Project (for Indians with diabetes), and the Tribal Colleges Education Equity Grants.
Asian-American Minority Grants
Asian-Americans also have access to several grant programs. One of the most influential grants for Asians is the Luisa Mallari Fellowship, which gives students the opportunity to study abroad.
Other minority grant programs for Asian-Americans include the Asian-American Federation of New York, the Southeast Asian Studies Regional Exchange Program, the Association for Asian Studies and the Asian-American Journalist Association.
Hispanic-American Minority Grants
The Hispanic population is one of the fastest growing in American, but remains one of the underrepresented minority groups in terms of scholarships and grants. Millions in funding is available at the federal level for Hispanic universities and colleges to close this gap. In addition to federal efforts, a number of Hispanic organizations provide financial assistance to Hispanic students.
Some of these organizations include the Scholarship for Disadvantaged Students Program; the Hispanic Nurses Association Grants and Scholarship program; the Hispanic Scholarship Fund Institute; Jose Marti Challenge Grant; Silicon Valley Scholarship; and, the Nursing Education Repayment program.
African-American Minority Grants
The United Negro College Fund (UNCF) was founded in 1942 and remains a notable organization providing financial assistance to African-American students. Historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) receive funding from the United Negro College Fund.
In addition to the contributions from UNCF, other grant programs are available for African-American students. Some of these include the Frederick Douglass Scholars Program; the American Psychological Association’s Minority Fellowship Program; the March of Dimes Nursing Scholarship; Mordecai Wyatt Johnson Program; and, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.
Minority Grants for Graduate Students
Several programs are available to minority graduate students who decide to pursue careers in areas that are traditionally underrepresented by minorities. Federal funds are limited to student loans for graduate degree programs. However, several organizations provide fellowship and other types of funding to minority groups. These include the Cornell University Graduate School Fellowship for Minorities; American Indian Graduate Fellowships; and, the National Consortium for Graduate Degrees for Minorities in Engineering and Science, Inc.