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Types of Scholarships: Identity-Based Scholarships

Applying for scholarships can be a daunting task. There are hundreds of scholarships out there, and it can be hard to find the best fit.

But there is one kind you should keep your eye on: identity-based scholarships. These scholarships are available to students with a specific demographic or identity, like women, people of color, LGBTQ+ students—you name it! There are tons of great opportunities out there if you know where to look.

Let’s get these scholarships on your radar so you know where to look for financial support.

What Are Identity-Based Scholarships?

Identity-based scholarships encourage members of a specific community to pursue higher education. They offer funds toward tuition and fees to help people afford college. These scholarships are for students who identify with a group based on:

  • Race
  • Ethnicity
  • Religion
  • Gender
  • Sexual orientation

The offer scholarship funds come from various sources, including:

  • Private organizations
  • Schools
  • Educational institutions

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College Scholarships for Hispanic Students

According to a June 2018 report, Hispanic adults are half as likely to earn a college degree as non-Hispanic white adults. Needless to say, financial aid can make a significant difference for Hispanic students.

Scholarships can help Latinos/as achieve their educational goals:

  • Cooperative Latino Credit Union’s scholarship awards are open to LCCU members pursuing a degree at a United States university or technical college. You need a 2.5 GPA or higher for consideration. The application process involves writing an essay in either Spanish or English.
  • Hispanic Heritage Youth Awards give out grants that Hispanic students can use toward books and other college expenses. To get this award, you need at least a 3.0 GPA. Applicants who show academic excellence get a better chance at winning this award.
  • The Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley has a Latinos in Technology Scholarship. Hispanic students pursuing STEM degrees can rely on this scholarship to help pay for tuition and fees. To qualify, you must be an undergraduate student entering your junior or senior year. Community college students transferring to a four-year institution may also qualify. You should have a GPA of 3.0+.

College Scholarships for African American Students

There’s a pronounced racial gap in financial help for Black students. Education data shows African American students accumulate more debt than their white peers. College scholarships go a long way to alleviate this debt and help make higher education more affordable:

  • The Gates Scholarship covers a full ride. Students must prove outstanding academic success and leadership abilities. High school seniors must have a minimum GPA of 3.3 and be eligible for the Pell grant.
  • Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholarship awards up to $30,000 over four years. It also provides internship placement and career guidance.
  • ETS Presidential Scholarship for HBCU Students covers the full cost of tuition. Are you a junior or a senior enrolled in a Black college or university? This one could be for you. Applicants must show financial need and have a 3.5+ GPA.

College Scholarships for Asian Students

Asian students are the fastest-growing segment of college students in the United States. Yet, they aren’t represented enough when it comes to scholarships. With more Asians going to college each year, they need to know about the financial aid available for their ethnic group. Here are just a few:

LGBTQ+ Scholarships

Do you identify as LGBTQ+, or are you an ally of the movement? There are scholarships out there for you! We’ve rounded up three examples of LGBTQ+ and gender-based scholarships:

  • Acorn Equality Fund Scholarship awards LGBTQ students living in Illinois. There are funds allocated for applicants based on financial need, extracurriculars, academic performance, and commitment to political advocacy and public health. You can get up to $4,000.
  • Pride in Diversity Scholarship awards $2,500 to an LGBTQ community member pursuing a college degree in a STEM-related field.
  • National Gay Pilots Association Scholarship helps LGBTQ students pursue a career in aviation. Applicants must be a member of the NGPA.

Religious Affiliation Scholarship Programs

A multitude of scholarship programs awards financial assistance to students who are members of a particular religious denomination. Here are some scholarships for students with strong religious beliefs:

  • Hindu Temple Educational Scholarship is perfect for students with strong religious convictions in Hinduism. Applicants must be high school seniors on track to attend a two-year or four-year college full-time. They also have to be temple members and have a GPA of 3.0+.
  • Italian Catholic Federation Scholarship provides aid to Roman Catholic Students from California, Arizona, Nevada, and Illinois. Applicants need at least one parent or grandparent from Italy and a GPA of 3.2 or higher.
  • National Presbyterian College Scholarship gives up to $2,000 to eligible first-year college students that attend church, take part in campus ministry, and have a cumulative GPA of at least 2.5. Applicants must demonstrate financial need and be full-time freshmen at a Presbyterian institution.

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Where to Find Identity-Based Scholarships

There are several places you can check for identity-based scholarships:

Your College’s Financial Aid Office

Most institutions have resources to help their students find funding for higher education, including grants and scholarships. Not sure where to start? Ask someone at your school’s financial aid or admissions office to point you in the right direction.

Websites of Organizations That Represent Your Culture or Community

Many groups that represent minority communities have scholarship programs for their members. These are often merit-based but may also include financial need as a criterion.

Your Network

Ask friends and family if they know of good identity-based scholarships for which you might be a good fit.

The Internet

Google is your best friend! Type in [identity] + scholarships or similar keywords to see what pops up.

How to Apply for Identity-Based Scholarships

Once you find identity-based scholarships that you qualify for, it’s time to apply for them. Below are tips to help you get started:

  • Make sure you fit all the requirements of the program.
  • Read through the instructions before filling out any forms or submitting an essay. Is there something you don’t understand? Ask someone with scholarship experience to help, or search online for answers.
  • Make sure to fill everything out with accuracy. Misspelling your contact information like an email address could complicate the process.
  • Be honest about your GPA, even if it’s not perfect. Most will ask you to provide proof via a transcript copy.
  • Have to write an essay? Give it your all and make sure it’s something you’re proud of. You want it to be an accurate representation of you!
  • Don’t procrastinate. The application process can be lengthy. You never know when you’ll experience an unexpected hiccup. Account for plenty of time to ask questions, write and proofread essays, and send transcripts.

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Your Identity Might Qualify You for Scholarship Opportunities

As you can see, identity-based scholarships can help support your educational endeavors. So embrace your identity and use it to your advantage! There are scholarships out there for everyone, and they’re looking for students like you. All it takes is a little research and strategic planning. It’s time to find the perfect match for your needs!

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