Scholarships for Latino Students

TBS Staff Writers
by
Updated September 14, 2023
Check out our comprehensive list of college scholarships and grants for Hispanic and Latino/a students.

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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

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

Undocumented students may apply.

Special Interest Scholarships

Undocumented students may apply.

Migrant Workers Scholarships

Undocumented students may apply.

Undocumented Students Scholarships

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.

  • Federal Pell Grants: Federal Pell Grants are need-based grants available to low-income undergraduate students who do not yet hold bachelor’s degrees. Pell Grants may also be applied to postsecondary programs at participating institutions and they are administered through the ED. Pell Grant amounts depend on a student’s family contribution, the overall cost of attendance at their chosen school, enrollment status, and the length of an academic program.
  • State Grants: State grants are usually administered by individual education departments, higher education agencies, or adult education agencies. They support residents by awarding grants based on financial need. Grants may also support a specific discipline, such as nursing or teaching.
  • Private Grants: Private grants may honor specific individuals, groups, or social causes, awarding annual educational support for general study or specific fields. Many private grants promote an industry or discipline, often awarded in conjunction with a professional agency, nonprofit organization, or corporation.

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

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