Scholarships for African American and Black Students

TBS Staff Writers
by
Updated December 12, 2023
Learn more about the importance of scholarships for Black and African American students with this guide. Start your search with some of the best awards available.

Are you ready to discover your college program?

This guide provides a list of notable college scholarships available for African American and Black students.

Paying for higher education can be the most challenging and stressful part of pursuing a degree. Thankfully, financial aid programs and scholarships can help relieve the financial burden of an education and allow students to focus on their studies.

Financial aid opportunities can also help reduce racial inequalities and disparities in higher education. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), Black students make up less than 15% of the college student body. Scholarships that support Black students can increase the diversity of college and university campuses and the workforce.

The following page highlights some of the best scholarship programs available to African American students and provides details on how learners can apply.

Challenges for African American and Black Students

Black and African American learners typically face greater challenges when pursuing an education than their white peers. Here are just some of the most significant obstacles these students face.

The Importance of Grants and Scholarships

For many students, scholarships and grants provide the financial support necessary to attend college or university. According to Sallie Mae, 58% of families utilize this type of funding, making it one of the largest sources of tuition payments. Of the total amount paid in tuition by the average American family, 25% comes from scholarships and grants.

While all forms of financial aid play a role, many Americans struggle with accumulating student debt and high-interest payments on loans. Scholarships and grants can help reduce debt more than most sources because the funds typically do not require repayment. These awards help reduce financial stress after graduation.

In addition to financial aid, scholarships and grants can also help students access employment opportunities. Merit awards in particular may help recipients stand out from the competition. Some awards even offer winners access to internships or careers within an organization in their chosen industry.

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Finding and Applying to Scholarships

Black and African American students can pursue many different scholarships. These awards may focus on academic achievements or financial need. Some recognize students from a specific state, county, city, or school district, while others support learners attending specific colleges or studying certain disciplines.

Plenty of scholarships and grants are specifically for Black or African American students, along with more general scholarships for minority applicants. Some of these awards also emphasize certain characteristics, such as first-generation college student status or community involvement. To maximize award potential, candidates should consider all categories, starting with the broad and working toward the very specific.

While most scholarships provide funding to help cover tuition costs, some awards enable recipients to use funds more broadly. For example, financial aid can help with housing, transportation, textbooks, and course materials, giving students more financial flexibility. It’s a good idea to apply to as many scholarships as possible to keep your options open.

Where To Look

While students should leave no stone unturned when looking for scholarships, some learners struggle to find available scholarships. Sites like Scholarships.com, Scholarship Points, and Student Scholarships offer access to large databases that students can filter through to find the most applicable awards.

For scholarships and grants specific for Black and African American students, applicants can explore databases like Black Scholarships or industry-focused organizations, such as the Black Business and Professional Association and the National Association of Black Accountants.

Black and African American applicants should also explore location- and school-based awards. For students applying to historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), HBCU Connect and HBCU Lifestyle also offer searchable databases. Most schools have their own internal scholarship databases, along with links to reputable external sites. State, city, and district government websites often provide scholarships for minority students as well.

How To Apply

Applications take time and effort. Thankfully, completing a FAFSA makes it easier to qualify for a large number of scholarships and grants. Many schools also automatically consider their students for financial awards. In general, applicants should begin their scholarship searches as early as possible, compiling a list of awards and paying close attention to their deadlines and required materials.

While requirements vary, candidates typically need school transcripts, resumes, community involvement examples, personal essays, and recommendation letters, so it’s best to assemble these things ahead of time. These will help streamline the general application process, allowing applicants to spend more time pursing awards that have unique essay questions and requirements.

African American and Black Scholarships

The following list highlights some of the best scholarships available for Black and African American students. It offers a helpful starting point, but students should still perform their own research to confirm details and find awards that match their unique achievements and circumstances.

General Scholarships

 

Scholarships for First-Generation Students

 

Scholarships for Women

 

STEAM Scholarships

African American and Black Grants

Grants, which typically award candidates based on financial need, differ from scholarships, which often depend on merit-based requirements. Like scholarships, grants very rarely require repayment. Learners can find most grants in the same databases where scholarships are found. Students can also access some of the most significant and widely available grants directly through FAFSA.

Three of the largest grant categories include:

  • Federal Pell Grants: Federal Pell Grants provide funding for undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need. Applicants must complete the FAFSA for consideration, with awards based on financial need, enrollment status, and family contribution ability.
  • State Grants: State grants come from state government funding. These aid programs typically aim to entice promising students to stay and study in their home states. To qualify, applicants typically need to demonstrate financial need and state residency. They may also need to attend specific state schools.
  • Private Grants: Private grants can come from many different sources, including local organizations or industry associations. These grants typically reward students who demonstrate financial need and plan to pursue a specific discipline. Candidates may also need to commit to employment or internships with the organization.

Though students should complete their own research to find the grants that meet their unique circumstances, the following list explores some of the most popular grants for Black and African American students.

Grants

Frequently Asked Questions

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