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College and graduate school scholarships for African American students

Published March 12, 2024| minute read
Hawa Tunkara

Associate, JPMorgan Chase

    There are a multitude of scholarships offered specifically for college and graduate students who identify as either African American or Black. In this article, we’ll cover scholarships that are available for African American students and the process of getting a scholarship.

    Of note, the scholarships in this article may be open to other applicants beyond African American students, so it’s important to check the eligibility requirements for each for more information.

    Continue reading to learn more.

    Are there scholarships for African American students?

    Generally speaking, a scholarship is money students may be eligible to receive to help pay for their education. Scholarships are often considered an advantageous form of student aid because they’re money that, for the most part, doesn’t need to be paid back (unlike student loans).

    This financial assistance could be awarded to students for different reasons like stellar academic performance, financial need, sports achievement, diversity and inclusion, or leadership (among many other reasons).

    Scholarships with eligibility that are based on race, like the many scholarships offered to African American students, may be available to address historical inequalities and provide opportunities for educational advancement through financial assistance.

    Scholarships for African American students often aim to promote diversity and inclusion regarding the representation of African American students in educational institutions like colleges and universities. Scholarships for African American students often have other eligibility requirements beyond race, like academic achievement or financial need for students to qualify.

    How to apply for scholarships for African American students

    The first step is to research the scholarships that may be available and then confirm that you meet the eligibility requirements for the scholarships you intend to apply for. You’ll also want to confirm the deadlines for the scholarships you intend to apply for.

    From there, gather and prepare all the materials needed for the applications, including any essays, transcripts, letters of recommendation, and financial information. Some scholarships may require you to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) before applying.

    Talking with your college advisor may be helpful during this process. Having someone you trust review your essays and other parts of your applications can also be beneficial.

    It’s important to note that there’s no limit to the number of scholarships you can apply for, so applying to multiple opportunities may be advisable.

    Scholarships available to undergraduate African American students

    If you’re a prospective or current undergraduate student, then check out some scholarships that may be available to you below.

    Ron Brown Scholar Program

    The Ron Brown Scholar program is a college scholarship and leadership program for African American students, awarding students who’ve exhibited academic excellence and leadership. The application for the Ron Brown Scholarship is open to high school seniors preparing for college, and recipients can expect to receive up to $40,000 ($10,000 for each year of college) toward their college of choice and are provided with mentoring, leadership experiences, and service opportunities.

    The Jackie Robinson Foundation

    The Jackie Robinson Foundation grants college scholarships of up to $35,000 over four years. Recipients can also attend the Jackie Robinson annual “Mentoring and Leadership Conference” in New York City and other events throughout the year. Scholarship recipients can expect access to career guidance, internship and permanent job placement, and practical life skills training, among other things.

    Thurgood Marshall College Fund

    The Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) caters specifically to the Black college community. The fund has member schools that include publicly-supported Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Predominantly Black Institutions (PBIs), and Historically Black Community Colleges (HBCCs). They award three types of scholarships to undergraduate students: The Gap Completion Scholarship, the Access Scholarship, and the Programmatic Scholarship. Please note that eligibility differs from one scholarship to another.

    Blacks at Microsoft Scholarship

    The Blacks at Microsoft Scholarship was created to support African American students planning to pursue a career in technology. In 2023, the scholarship was awarded to 50 eligible students, with five receiving up to $20,000 in scholarships distributed over four years (renewable awards of $5,000) and 45 students receiving a $2,500 one-time-only scholarship.

    UNCF Scholarship

    UNCF is the largest private scholarship provider for minorities. They award more than $100 million in scholarships to students attending more than 1,100 schools nationwide each year, including 37 HBCUs. The organization has multiple scholarship and career development programs, which can be researched on its website.

    Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Scholarship

    The Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Scholarship Program is managed and administered by UNCF and is for rising college seniors enrolled in a four-year HBCU. The program awards two HBCU seniors who’ve portrayed high academic achievement with a minimum 3.5 grade point average (GPA), leadership skills, and commitment to community service while also having unmet financial needs. Each recipient receives a $10,000 scholarship.

    ACS Scholars Program

    The ACS Scholars Program gives renewable scholarships to eligible undergraduate students from historically underrepresented groups who study the chemical sciences, major in chemistry-related disciplines, and intend to pursue chemistry-related careers. Scholar recipients are awarded up to $5,000 per academic year.

    LEAD Scholarship

    The LEAD Scholarship Foundation awards eligible graduating African American high school seniors a one-time scholarship of up to $5,000. Along with providing financial assistance, the program offers peer and professional mentors to recipients.

    BRPH Future Achievers Scholarship

    The BRPH Future Achievers Scholarship awards $1,000 college scholarships to eligible minority students majoring in architecture and engineering. The scholarship was created to encourage ethnically diverse students to pursue earning an architecture or engineering degree.

    Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) Education Foundation

    The SME Education Foundation focuses on supporting the next generation of manufacturing and engineering talent. Graduating high school seniors and current college students pursuing an associate or bachelor’s degree in manufacturing, engineering, or related discipline are potentially eligible to be awarded between $2,500 and $20,000.

    Scholarships available to African American graduate students

    If you’re a prospective or current graduate student, then check out some scholarships that may be available to you below.

    The Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (AICPA) Scholarship for Minority Accounting Students

    The AICPA Minority Scholarship aims to increase the diversity among Certified Public Accountants (CPAs). Recipients can expect to be awarded between $3,000 to $10,000, and 60 recipients are selected annually. This scholarship is available to both undergraduate and graduate students.

    The Legacy Lab Scholarship Foundation

    The Legacy Lab Scholarship Foundation is open to undergraduate and graduate students and awards a $15,000 scholarship to an African American or Black student with leadership and social impact potential. The scholarship is intended as an investment to help a student achieve a personal ambition.

    Louis Stokes Health Scholars Program

    The Louis Stokes Health Scholars Program scholarship is open to applicants pursuing an undergraduate, graduate, or doctoral degree in health and medicine in areas including internal medicine, family medicine, and pediatrics. Scholar recipients can expect an award between $5,000 and $8,000 that may be renewed annually if the eligibility requirements are met.

    Final thoughts

    One of the potentially difficult aspects of applying for scholarships is keeping track of the differing deadlines. Writing down the deadlines of scholarships you have an interest in or putting them on your calendar can be helpful ways to stay on top of them.