Searching for Scholarships as an African American

Article-Photos257When it comes to searching for scholarships, African American students face unique challenges, but also can take advantage of some special funding opportunities.

Check out these organizations that specifically target African American students:

The United Negro College Fund is the country’s largest higher education assistance organization for minorities, providing various scholarships and internships for students at approximately 900 institutions.

The Ron Brown Scholar Program awards $40,000 scholarships—$10,000 per year for four years. It requires and helps coordinate at least one internship.

The Jackie Robinson Foundation provides each student up to $7,200 per year and involves recipients in a leadership program that includes a professional mentor, summer internships, and permanent job placement.

Other helpful information sources include:

High School Guidance Counselor

Your counselor can alert you to scholarships for matriculating students.

College Financial Aid Office

Many benefactors, including the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and the Tom Joyner Foundation, distribute money through colleges rather than directly to students. To learn about these opportunities, contact your college’s scholarship coordinator.

Your Major

There is no doubt a minority organization affiliated with your area of study, such as the National Society of Black Engineers or National Association of Black Journalists. To search for scholarships, visit the group’s Web site.

Black Fraternities and Sororities

If you or a relative is a member of a Greek organization, you may be eligible for special grants. Check with your local chapter for details.

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has an extensive list of scholarship opportunities for African American students.

Online Scholarship Widgets

Widgets such as Sallie Mae® on allow you to search databases that contain millions of available scholarships to help fund your education.

Helpful Hints

Create a résumé, if you haven’t already. Many scholarship applications require a list of your achievements, and thinking about your accomplishments will help you organize your thoughts for the essay.

If a letter of recommendation is required, choose someone who knows you well and can give specific examples of your character and ability—perhaps your direct supervisor, rather than the CEO of the company. Ask early, and give this person a copy of your résumé to help them craft the letter.

Follow directions. Be sure to include all the necessary paperwork, answer all parts of the essay question, stick to the required word count, and mail your application well before the deadline.


This article was written by Dalia Wheatt

Dalia Wheatt is from Cleveland, Ohio. She has worked as an editor, freelance writer, and Spanish teacher.

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