Some students may see a college education as an unattainable dream due to financial hardship. African American males make up only 5.5% of college students in the United States, according to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, and only one in six of them will finish college and get their degree. While financial hardship is not the only reason for such low numbers, it certainly plays a role for many African American students seeking a college education.
College, however, doesn’t have to be unattainable. Statistics show that African Americans who earn a college degree have significantly higher incomes than those who do not, and there is a wealth of scholarships for African American students. While some of these scholarship programs are specifically for African American students, others are available for students of any minority status.
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African American students currently make up only 11% of all scholarship students. While many often think of scholarships as being intrinsically tied to athletic achievement, that’s not the case. Scholarships are also available for academic merit, specific skills outside of sports, or even location and hobbies. Some scholarships are also geared for students seeking a specific career path. Here’s just a sample of the many scholarships for African American students.
8 Scholarships for African American Students
Ronald McDonald House Charities & African American Future Achievers Scholarships
These scholarships are awarded to high school seniors who plan to attend a college or university. Students must have one parent who is of African American descent. Applicants must be residents of the United States and be younger than 21 years of age. Most awards are for $1,000, but the actual amount depends on the chapter in which the student resides. Students attending both two and four year universities are eligible to apply for this award. More information is available at their website.
The Negro Spiritual Scholarship
This scholarship provides four awards of up to $3,000. Students who are in their last two years of high school are eligible to apply for this award. The competition entails performing in a vocal competition. One male and one female will be awarded a $3,000 grant. One male and one female runner up will be awarded a $2,000 grant to help fund their education. In addition, each singer who makes it to the final is awarded a $100 prize. All students must be African American in order to participate.
Gates Millennium Scholars Program
This program is open to minority students, including African American students. In order to be eligible, students must be entering college for the first time. In order to be eligible for this award, students must hold at least a 3.3 grade point average and be a resident of the United States. Students must demonstrate financial need. These awards provide up to the full cost of tuition for four years.
The Diversity Abroad Scholarship
This African American scholarship offers students the chance to go overseas and study at a number of prestigious universities abroad through partnerships with several organizations. Studying abroad is not only a priceless experience, but it’s excellent material for a student’s resume. To be eligible for this scholarship, students must be studying full-time in an undergraduate program in the United States, and must participate in a study abroad program offered by DiversityAbroad.com’s partner organizations. African American students are strongly encouraged to apply.
The Actuarial Diversity Scholarship
This scholarship is designed to recognize minority students pursuing a degree program that may lead to a career in the actuarial field. The scholarship may award up to $5,000 for academically achieving minority students. This scholarship has been in place since 1977, and in that time they have given opportunities in the actuarial profession to hundreds of students. Those who apply must be studying in a major that can be applied to actuarial science, such as statistics, finance, or mathematics. More information can be found on their website.
The Ron Brown Scholarship Program
This program looks to identify and recognize black high school seniors who will make a significant contribution to the world around them. There are over 200 Ron Brown scholars currently, and the awards are $10,000, renewable for any accredited four-year college or university in the United States, in any major or career field the student desires. Eligible students must have excellent academic achievement, demonstrated leadership skills, a history of service to their community, and proven financial need.
The Vanguard Minority Scholarship Program
The program provides scholarships to minority students majoring in business, finance, accounting, liberal arts, and information technology. The awards are $10,000, and are based purely on merit. In order to receive a Vanguard scholarship, students must be entering their senior year of college, be members of a racial minority, be studying one of the approved fields, and have a 3.0 grade point average on a 4.0 scale. Students must also be U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents to qualify.
Dr. Dan J. and Patricia S. Pickard Scholarship
This scholarship provides two scholarships worth $1,000 each. This award is open to African American students who are from Dallas County in Texas. This award is only open to male students who hold at least a 2.5 grade point average. Applicants are required to demonstrate financial need. Personal interviews may be required of applicants. The scholarship can be used towards tuition, student fees, textbooks, and other educational expenses. In addition, the scholarship may be renewed as long as the student maintains a full time course load and maintains at least a 2.5 grade point average. More information about this scholarship can be found on their website.
These are just a basic sampling of the many scholarships available to African American students. Whatever a student’s obstacle to a college education is, a scholarship program probably exists to help remove what’s blocking their path; some scholarships are even awarded for civil rights involvement and political action.
Financial need no longer needs to be a reason for deserving students to miss out on a college education; with the scholarship programs available to African American students, any student with the motivation and dedication to pursue their dreams of college can see those dreams achieved.
Author: Jeff Gitlen
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