Hispanic and Latino/a students can pursue college scholarships that specifically celebrate their heritage.

Hispanic and Latino/a students account for a large segment of minority students on college and university campuses around the United States. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the percentage of Hispanic individuals aged 18-24 who were enrolled in postsecondary education programs increased from 22% in 2000 to 36% in 2018. With this increased presence in higher education, the need for grants and scholarships for Hispanic and Latino/a learners continues to grow.

Many colleges and universities offer welcoming campus climates and provide financial assistance for students from diverse backgrounds, including Hispanic and Latino/a students. Scholarships like this provide funding specifically for individuals of Spanish or Latin American descent. 

Hispanic and Latino/a Student Challenges

Economic Barriers

Economic barriers to higher education for Hispanic and Latino/a learners are largely the result of disproportionate income levels among their populations. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2018, Hispanic people constituted 18.3% of the population of the United States at large, but 27.2% of the population living below the poverty line. 

Pew Research Center also found that in 2013, median income for Hispanic and Latino/a households was 3.1% lower than the national median. While the Hispanic poverty rate dropped by nearly one-half of a percentage point from 2016-2017, the annual poverty rate for Hispanics still reached 12.3% in 2017. 

Educational Barriers

In 2016, only 15% of Hispanic adults aged 25 or older in the United States held a bachelor's degree, ranking among the lowest among ethnic categories for the same age group. Hispanic and Latino/a students face educational barriers across the country, often due to things like legal status, discrimination, and lack of governmental support. 

A 2017 Pew Research Center report found that Latino/a and Hispanic people accounted for roughly 70% of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. Thus the lack of resources for undocumented students, accompanied by limited support systems in primary education, impacts low high school graduation and college enrollment rates among Hispanic and Latino/a students. 

Political Barriers

Hispanic and Latino/a students who are undocumented have particularly limited access to postsecondary funding. For example, filling out a FAFSA requires a social security number. Similarly, recipients of DACA — Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, an immigration policy that allows undocumented immigrants to remain in the U.S. under certain conditions — can submit a FAFSA but cannot receive federal aid. 

Additionally, undocumented college and university students may jeopardize their presence in the U.S. by applying for private or state-based aid. 

The Importance of Grants and Scholarships

Grants and scholarships offer financial assistance to students without the conditions and risks presented by other funding sources. While the two terms are often used interchangeably, the key difference is that grants are based on need, while scholarships are awarded based on merit. Grants and scholarships both do not require repayment, and learners can often reapply in subsequent semesters or years. 

For low-income students, Pell Grants are often the best choice. In 2018, over $2.5 million in Pell Grant money went unclaimed by eligible high school graduates entering college. That averages out to roughly $4,000 per student. As tuition rates and accompanying college fees continue to rise, seizing upon funding opportunities is more important than ever. 

Without grants and scholarships, students have to turn to college loans, but repaying loans can often take decades. As of 2020, almost 45 million individuals in the U.S. have a collective $1.56 trillion in student debt. For those who qualify, scholarships are a much better option.

Finding and Applying to Scholarships

The easiest way to apply for scholarships is by submitting a FAFSA, although state, county, and local organizations also offer funding programs. School districts and community service organizations may also award grants and scholarships to graduating seniors, though they usually have individual application processes.

Hispanic and Latino/a students often qualify for specialized scholarships, like those offered by private companies and organizations. For example, Hispanic and Latino/a students may qualify for scholarships awarded to first-generation or low-income learners. Colleges and universities can also award financial assistance to specific ethnic groups. 

Where to Look

For high school students exploring college and university options, guidance counselors are the best source of information about funding opportunities. Learners can also contact potential schools to inquire about grants, scholarships, and comparable programs available for Latino/a and Hispanic students. 

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) provides a scholarship search tool and offers resources about the types of aid available for specific student demographics, including Hispanic and Latino/a students. Resources also cover how to apply for financial aid.

Ethnic-based professional or academic organizations are another reliable source of funding for Latino/a and Hispanic students. Groups like the Hispanic Scholarship Consortium and the Hispanic Scholarship Fund offer guidance on regional and national opportunities for college and university funding, while professional bodies, such as the National Association of Hispanic Nurses, award scholarships to individuals earning degrees in specific disciplines. 

How to Apply 

Scholarship application requirements vary by program. As students prepare their materials, they should review their educational performance and community-based activities. Understanding what individuals scholarship programs are looking for in terms of GPA, volunteerism, and leadership experience helps learners clearly explain their strengths to potential funders. 

Most scholarships require applicants to submit transcripts, a resume, and an essay. Some programs may also ask learners to write about something directly applicable to the organization's mission or to describe their career goals and how they can contribute to their professional field of choice.

Another common application material is letters of support from teachers or members of the community. Students should have several potential letter-writers in mind and be sure to give them ample time to complete their recommendation letters. 

Prospective college and university enrollees should apply for as many scholarships as possible as early as possible. Applying well before established deadlines ensures that materials will arrive in time for full consideration.

Hispanic and Latino/a Scholarships

While not a comprehensive list, the following list of scholarships offers a few examples of financial assistance for Hispanic and Latino/a students. Specialized scholarships serve subsets within Hispanic and Latino/a communities — namely, undocumented immigrants and migrant workers. Individuals should fully explore the requirements of each program to determine if it aligns with their unique circumstances before applying.

General Scholarships

General Scholarships

Undocumented students may apply.

Dr. Juan Andrade Jr. Scholarship for Young Hispanic Leaders $1,000

Open Date See website
Deadline November
About Awarded by the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute, the Dr. Juan Andrade Jr. Scholarship for Young Hispanic Leaders supports service leadership among Hispanic students. Each applicant must maintain full-time enrollment in an undergraduate program. To apply, candidates must submit background and leadership essays, transcripts, a resume, and two letters of recommendation.
Apply Here

Hispanic Scholarship Fund $500-$5,000

Open Date See website
Deadline February
About Assisting students of Hispanic heritage in earning college degrees since 1975, HSF awards merit-based funds to high school seniors, undergraduates, and graduate students. Applicants provide transcripts and documentation about their citizenship or residency status for consideration. The program accepts applications from students pursuing all disciplines, with an emphasis on STEM majors.
Apply Here

Latino Community Credit Union Scholarship Varies

Open Date See website
Deadline Unspecified
About Initiated in 2016, the LCCU Scholarship supports students pursuing degrees at any technical college or university in the United States. Each applicant must hold LCCU membership and demonstrate a minimum 2.5 GPA and leadership qualities by providing transcripts and a formal essay. Additional application materials include two letters of recommendation.
Apply Here

LULAC National Scholarship Fund Varies

Open Date See website
Deadline Unspecified
About Founded to help youth in underdeveloped communities enroll in college, LNSF partners with corporations and local advocates to award three scholarships each year. Programs include National Scholastic Achievement Awards, Honors Awards, and General Awards. Each scholarship considers educational performance and the applicant's motivation, sincerity, and community involvement.
Apply Here

McDonald's® HACER® National Scholarship Varies

Open Date See website
Deadline February
About Open to students with at least one parent of Hispanic heritage, the HACER® National Scholarship supports Hispanic students who seek to make the world a better place. McDonald's distributes these awards based on academic achievement, financial need, and community involvement. Each applicant must submit transcripts, a personal statement, one letter of recommendation, and a list of community service projects.
Apply Here

NBCUniversal/LNESC Scholarship $5,000 annually

Open Date See website
Deadline Varies
About NBCUniversal offers the LNESC Scholarship to sophomore and junior students each year, awarding it to Latino/a students earning postsecondary degrees with an interest in the media and entertainment industry. Each candidate must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and have a minimum 3.0 GPA for consideration.
Apply Here

Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities Scholarship Programs Varies

Open Date See website
Deadline July
About HACU offers five scholarship programs. Individuals of Latino/a descent studying at HACU-member schools in any part of the United States or Puerto Rico can apply for the Cafe Bustelo El Cafe Del Futuro Scholarship and the Oracle Scholarship program. The other three programs include the Miller Lite - Texas program, which supports undergraduate students studying in Texas; the Miller Lite - National program, which awards scholarships to learners at HACU-member institutions in seven specified cities; and the Kia Motors America, Inc. STEAM Scholarship for first-generation students.
Apply Here

Hispanic Scholarship Consortium $5,000

Open Date See website
Deadline April
About Dedicated to supporting Hispanic and Latino/a students residing in Texas, HSC provides scholarship, mentorship, and leadership opportunities for individuals enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs. Candidates can renew awards for up to five years. Application requirements include transcripts reflecting a minimum 2.5 GPA, a letter of support, and a personal interview.
Apply Here

Prospanica Foundation Scholarships $5,000

Open Date See website
Deadline Varies
About Prospanica Foundation Scholarships include the undergraduate and graduate scholarship program for entrepreneurial-minded students. Each applicant must hold a minimum 3.0 GPA or a minimum 2.75 GPA with at least two years of professional work experience. The university partnership program offers financial assistance for students earning MBA degrees at one of the nearly 30 participating colleges and universities.
Apply Here

 

Special Interest Scholarships

Special Interest Scholarships

Undocumented students may apply.

Association of Cuban-American Engineers Scholarship Foundation $2,500

Open Date See website
Deadline January
About ACAESF supports Cuban-American and Hispanic students who are earning undergraduate and graduate degrees in engineering. Recipients must enroll in ABET-accredited institutions and have at least one grandparent of Cuban or Hispanic nationality. Application materials include transcripts reflecting a minimum 3.0 GPA.
Apply Here

Association of Latino Professionals for America Scholarship Varies

Open Date See website
Deadline May
About ALPFA scholarships are available to premium members of ALPFA and support Latino/a students pursuing business, accounting, finance, or STEM fields. Each applicant must enroll in an undergraduate or graduate degree and hold a minimum 3.0 GPA. To apply, candidates must write a one-page essay. ALPFA offers additional consideration for candidates in financial need and first- or second-generation learners.
Apply Here

ExxonMobil Engineering Scholarship $20,000

Open Date See website
Deadline August
About ExxonMobil awards its engineering scholarship to Hispanic high school seniors pursuing degrees in engineering at institutions in or around one of 15 specified cities. Each applicant must hold a cumulative high school GPA of at least 3.5 and meet minimum ACT and SAT score requirements. Additional application materials include three letters of recommendation.
Apply Here

HACU IES Abroad Scholarship $5,000

Open Date See website
Deadline Fall: November; Spring: May
About Open to students enrolling in Hispanic-serving, HACU-member institutions, this scholarship supports a summer, semester, or year of an International Education of Students study abroad program. To apply, individuals must demonstrate financial need and agree to meet return requirements. HACU gives priority to first-generation students and Pell Grant recipients.
Apply Here

Latinos in Technology Scholarship Varies

Open Date See website
Deadline Varies
About With financial assistance and internship opportunities, the Latinos in Technology Scholarship supports Latino/a students earning a degree in a STEM-related field. Each applicant must be a college junior or senior and have graduated from a high school in one of 11 counties in Northern California with a minimum 3.0 GPA.
Apply Here

MPower Financing Women in STEM Scholarship Varies

Open Date See website
Deadline December
About The MPower scholarship supports three female undergraduate or graduate learners enrolled in STEM programs at colleges or universities in the United States or Canada. Applicants submit transcripts, written essays, and proof of citizenship and immigration status. MPower evaluates candidates based on academic record, potential, and demonstrated mentorship and advocacy for women and girls in STEM.
Apply Here

National Association of Hispanic Nurses Scholarships Varies

Open Date See website
Deadline November
About NAHN supports aspiring nurses at all stages of their academic careers. Applicants must be NAHN members enrolled in accredited nursing programs. The Children's Mercy Scholarship provides funding to undergraduate nursing students. The United Health Foundation Diverse Scholars Initiative works to increase the number of primary care nurses in the workforce, while the Hector Gonzalez Past Presidents Scholarship aids individuals earning associate degrees in nursing. The NurseTim Scholarship targets graduate students specializing in nurse education.
Apply Here

ScholarSHPE Varies

Open Date See website
Deadline April
About With more than 150 scholarships, ScholarSHPE seeks to narrow the gap for Hispanic students in STEM education. Graduating high school seniors, undergraduate students, professionals earning certificates, and graduate students with active membership to the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers can apply.
Apply Here

The Carlos M. Casteñeda Journalism Scholarship Varies

Open Date See website
Deadline April
About This scholarship honors its namesake by promoting excellence in Spanish language journalism. Each applicant must enroll in a journalism or Spanish graduate degree and demonstrate command of the Spanish language. To apply, an individual must submit a resume, three letters of recommendation, a portfolio of published works, and an application essay.
Apply Here

The Hispanic Health Professional Student Scholarship Varies

Open Date See website
Deadline September
About The Hispanic Health Professional Student Scholarship supports individuals enrolled in accredited graduate programs in medicine, dentistry, and pharmacy. Additional disciplines include public health and policy, physician assistant programs, and nursing. Candidates of all races may apply, but they must demonstrate an interest in the health of Hispanic communities. Application materials include a personal statement, resume, transcripts, and one letter of recommendation.
Apply Here

The Univision NATAS Scholarship $10,000

Open Date See website
Deadline March
About Awarded by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, the Univision NATAS Scholarship supports a Hispanic or Latino/a student pursuing a career in any aspect of television.
Apply Here

 

Scholarships for Migrant Workers

Scholarships for Migrant Workers

Undocumented students may apply.

Geneseo Migrant Center Scholarships Varies

Open Date See website
Deadline Varies
About These scholarships are awarded through the Geneseo Migrant Center to support individuals with a history of employment in agriculture. They are intended to support students entering undergraduate or graduate programs and facilitate academic study in specific parts of the United States.
Apply Here

Lapiz Family Scholarship $2,000

Open Date See website
Deadline April
About Awarded by the Asian Pacific Fund, the Lapiz Family Scholarship honors farmworkers Apolonio and Arcadia Lapiz. Applicants must be farmworkers or the children of farm or migrant workers and demonstrate financial need. Individuals of any ethnic or racial background can apply, but they must enroll in a school within the University of California System.
Apply Here

Sea Mar Farmworker College Scholarships $1000

Open Date See website
Deadline April
About Students enrolling full time in postsecondary programs can apply for aid through Sea Mar Community Health Centers, which aims to support farmworkers and their children. Applicants must demonstrate financial need, supply transcripts, and answer essay questions.
Apply Here

 

Scholarships for Undocumented Students

Scholarships for Undocumented Students

CORE's Que Llueva Café Scholarship Varies

Open Date See website
Deadline July
About This program supports high school graduates and GED certificate recipients as they enter accredited colleges or universities for the first time. Created in response to the lack of financial resources for undocumented students, CORE awards the scholarship based on personal story, financial need, extracurricular involvement, and academic promise.
Apply Here

Golden Door Scholars Varies

Open Date See website
Deadline September
About This program funds undergraduate study at one of the organization's partner schools. It supports DACA recipients, students granted temporary protected status, and others who meet the immigration eligibility criteria. Applicants must demonstrate academic excellence and community involvement.
Apply Here

PepsiCo Cesar Chavez Latino Scholarship Fund $5,000

Open Date See website
Deadline May
About Supporting individuals studying at higher learning institutions in California and Arizona, this fund selects recipients based on academic excellence, leadership in extracurricular activities, community leadership, and financial need. Candidates must be incoming or continuing undergraduate students.
Apply Here

SOS Migrant Student Scholarship $1,000

Open Date See website
Deadline May
About The SOS Migrant Student Scholarship supports non-U.S. citizens attending two- or four-year institutions. Recipients can apply funds toward any costs associated with the pursuit of postsecondary education. Individuals funded through the program also receive mentorship through SOS.
Apply Here

TheDream.Us National Scholarship Varies

Open Date See website
Deadline February
About The National Scholarship, which is awarded through TheDream.US, supports the pursuit of an undergraduate degree at one of the organization's partner institutions. Recipients may also receive stipends for books, supplies, and transportation. Eligible students must have come to the United States before turning 16 years old, have resided in the country since November 2014, and attend or have graduated from a high school or GED program in the U.S.
Apply Here

TheDream.US Opportunity Scholarship Varies

Open Date See website
Deadline January
About TheDream.US's Opportunity Scholarship funds enrollment at one of four participating schools, covering tuition, fees, and on-campus room and board costs for a full academic year. Opportunity Partner colleges include Christian Brothers University, Delaware State University, Eastern Connecticut State University, and Trinity Washington University. Individuals living in states that deny undocumented immigrants access to college, such as West Virginia, Mississippi, and North Carolina, can pursue additional funding opportunities.
Apply Here

 

Hispanic and Latino/a Grants

In contrast to scholarships awarded based on academic merit, grants provide financial assistance for students who demonstrate financial need. College applicants receive consideration for grants when they submit a FAFSA, although it's worth nothing that undocumented immigrants are not eligible for federal aid.

Submitting a FAFSA can also open access to state or private grants. Additional grant resources for Hispanic and Latino/a students are available through education advocacy groups within the Hispanic and Latino/a communities.

Grants

Grants

The list below provides a sampling of grants available to Hispanic and Latino/a students. Individuals entering colleges and universities should research grants that meet their individual needs.

Learners can also benefit from talking to financial aid representatives at their potential schools. Individual departments and programs at colleges and universities may also offer grant programs.

Undocumented students may apply.

California Dream Act Varies

Open Date See website
Deadline March
About The California Dream Act supports undocumented and DACA students enrolled at public and private institutions in California. The program determines eligibility for state financial aid. Each applicant must demonstrate attendance or graduation from a high school in California, receipt of a GED certificate, or earned credit hours from a community college in the state.
Apply Here

College Assistance Migrant Program Varies

Open Date See website
Deadline Varies
About CAMP primarily awards funding to first-year undergraduate students who work as migratory or seasonal farmworkers. The program supports roughly 2,000 students every year.
Apply Here

Hispanic Heritage Foundation Youth Awards Varies

Open Date See website
Deadline Varies
About Designed to support Latino/a high school seniors as they enter college or participate in community social efforts, HHF Youth Awards prepare students to become role models within their communities. The Youth Award program is also a pathway to HHF's Latinas On Fast Track (LOFT) initiative, which unites Latina professionals and students through leadership training, workforce development, networking, and community outreach opportunities. Youth Awards applicants need a minimum 3.0 GPA and must attend a regional award ceremony if selected.
Apply Here

 

Frequently Asked Questions

What Percentage of Hispanic Students Go to College?

The Postsecondary National Policy Institute (PNPI) reported in 2017 that 20% of traditional college and university students in the United States were Latino/a, and 85% of those Latino/a students attended public institutions.

How Can Hispanic and Latino/a Students Find Scholarships for College?

A Latino/a learner can apply for scholarships by completing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Along with funding opportunities provided through FAFSA, Latino/a students can pursue funding through private funders, community organizations, or loan programs. It is worth noting that undocumented students cannot receive federal aid and may find it risky to complete a FAFSA, though they are permitted to enroll in public school in the United States.

What Percentage of Students Get a Scholarship?

According to PNPI, 60% of Latino/a students receive federal financial aid, with about 40% receiving Pell Grants. Pell Grants are designed for students who demonstrate exceptional financial need and they do not need to be repaid.

How Do You Become a National Hispanic Scholar?

High school juniors who are at least one-quarter Hispanic are eligible to become National Hispanic Scholars. Initiated by the College Board, the program recognizes students based on their performance on the PSAT/NMSQT exam. Roughly 5,000 Hispanic and Latino/a students receive recognition annually.

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