Posted on August 28, 2016 in Scholarships
For students looking to score “free money” to pay for college, landing a scholarship is as good as it gets. But what happens when you apply to a scholarship that is open to just about everybody?
National scholarship programs, which are open to students with an average grade point average (GPA), and having few other criteria, are highly competitive and, thus, harder to win. It is usually the best and brightest students from top high schools that get access to these funds.
Minority scholarships, on the other hand, provide opportunities for specific groups of students. The criteria for these scholarships often require the student to be of a certain race or ethnicity, gender, or to have experienced various obstacles to success.
Microsoft offers many scholarships that are open to most students, but proudly offers separate scholarships that are open to just women, minority races, and students with disabilities. According to its website, Microsoft is “especially committed to offering tuition assistance to those individuals from backgrounds that may historically have been underrepresented in the technical field.”
Minority scholarships are not just about being different, though. Having a specific background or heritage isn’t enough to qualify for these awards. Many minority scholarships are also merit-based, which means that they require students to excel in either academics or sports. Other minority scholarships require students to have a demonstrated financial need, meaning that they cannot afford to attend college without some sort of aid.
Race and Ethnicity Scholarships
Every year in the United States, the amount of minority students enrolled in college increases. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the number of black students who enrolled in college increased from 10 to 15 percent between 1976 and 2013. The number of hispanic students enrolled in college jumped from 4 to 16 percent during that same time period.
Data that was published by the Pew Research Center shows that, in 2014, six out of ten Hispanics in the United States were Millennials (ages 18-33) or younger. These age ranges coincide with the average age of a college student, which is 18-24 years old.
As the country becomes more diverse, these statistics become important to companies that seek to hire well-educated employees. If students of certain races and ethnicities are unable to afford college, the pool of qualified employees dwindles. Many companies fund scholarships for minorities in order to help maintain an educated workforce.
In addition to Microsoft, several large corporations fund minority scholarships. Many of these corporations partner with organizations that support the advancement of a specific group or race. Some of these are:
- The General Electric (GE)/League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) Scholarship
- American Indian Science & Engineering Society/ExxonMobil Scholarship
- Congressional Black Caucus/General Mills Health Scholarship Program
Organizations and associations that value higher education and opportunities for all people award scholarship funds to minority students, as well. Some minority scholarships that require students to be of a particular race or ethnicity include:
- The Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholarship
- The Hispanic Scholarship Fund
- The Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund
- The American Indian College Fund
Women’s Scholarship Programs
While there is no shortage of women in the United States, there have been times when the country’s history and culture have created limitations for women seeking higher education. For decades, women were relegated to the professions of teaching and nursing, but were (and still are) underrepresented in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math.
There are many scholarship opportunities for women studying various fields, ensuring that they don’t get left behind. Here are just a few:
- E.O. STAR Scholarship
- The Women in Defense HORIZONS Scholarship
- The Ethnic Minority and Women's Enhancement Postgraduate Scholarship for Careers in Athletics
- The Betty Rendel Scholarship Fund
There are also many scholarship opportunities for single mothers and women who have experienced abuse, including:
- The Live Your Dream Award
- The Women’s Independence Scholarship Program
- Patsy Takemoto Mink Education Foundation Scholarship
Scholarships for Students with Learning Disabilities
It is hard to determine exactly how many children and adults in the United States are struggling with a learning disability, but the numbers seem to be increasing. Disabilities like dyslexia (related to reading), dysgraphia (related to writing), and Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) make learning a struggle for many students.
For students who are able to thrive in education despite their learning disabilities, there are scholarship programs to cover some of the costs of college. Some of these scholarships include:
- The Anne Ford and Allegra Ford Thomas Scholarships
- The RISE Scholarship Award
- The Shire ADHD Scholarship
- The P. Buckley Moss Endowed Scholarship
Scholarships for LGBTQ Students
Scholarships for students who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer (LGBTQ) may find scholarship opportunities specific to them. This is a fairly new category of minority scholarships, so students should continue to search for opportunities, as more opportunities seem likely to arise.
Here are a few LGBTQ-specific scholarships:
- The LEAGUE Foundation Matthew Shepard Memorial Scholarship
- National Organization of Gay and Lesbian Scientists and Technical Professionals Out To Innovate Scholarship
- The Reaching Out LGBT MBA Fellowship
Something for Everybody
Though this is not a comprehensive list of all minority scholarships for college students, it does show that there are many scholarships available to students from all walks of life, and who have faced all kinds of obstacles.
If you need money to pay for college, don’t hesitate to lean on your background and experiences in order to get noticed. There are people (and organizations) around every corner who recognize that each of us is unique, and that everyone deserves the opportunity to advance their education.
Remember: it is not just the most obvious parts of who you are that can get you a scholarship. Think of anything and everything that makes you you.