The 7 best scholarships for Black college students

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Scholarships are free money awards that students can use to pay for school and other college-related expenses, and they’re one of the best ways to avoid student loans. That’s particularly important for Black college students, who on average end up with more student loan debt than their white peers. Many organizations have scholarships designed for Black students to help alleviate student debt.

Here are some places you can explore scholarships for Black students and some major ones you can apply for.

Where to find college scholarships for Black students

There’s no one place to find college scholarships, although scholarship search engines are a good place to start. Many scholarships are offered across the country, but there are plenty that are awarded to students at the state, local and institutional level. Here are some national resources:

Nationally offered scholarships have some of the most competitive awards. While these may offer the most money, remember that hundreds and sometimes thousands of other students are vying for the same ones. Take some time to explore less-popular scholarships by looking into charitable organizations, minority advocacy groups, corporations and even the college you’ll be attending to find scholarships geared toward Black students.

You can also try exploring scholarships for Black students broken down by category. For instance, you might be able to find scholarships just for business majors, STEM students, journalism students, women and others. This narrow search may yield fewer results, but you could end up winning more money.

7 best scholarships for Black college students

Here are some of the most popular scholarships for Black students. Some are one-time awards, only giving funding for one year. Others will pay for multiple years or allow winners to reapply. Check the qualifications before applying, and if the deadline has already passed, mark your calendars for next year.

1. White Collar Defense Diversity Scholarship

African American students from single-parent homes can qualify for the White Collar Defense Diversity Scholarship, worth $500. Applicants must demonstrate financial need and have a minimum GPA of at least 3.0. To apply, candidates must write an essay describing the impact of growing up as a minority with a single parent, as well as how the scholarship will address their college, law school and/or career plans.

Amount: $500
Deadline: Sept. 30, 2021
Apply here: https://whitecollarattorney.net/2021-white-collar-defense-diversity-scholarship/

2. Ron Brown Scholar Program

The Ron Brown Scholar Program awards four-year scholarships to Black high school seniors who are interested in public service, community engagement, business entrepreneurship and global citizenship — but all majors are accepted. Applicants must write two 500-word essays and be able to demonstrate financial need.

Amount: $40,000
Deadline: Jan. 9, 2022
Apply here: https://www.ronbrown.org/section/apply/program-description

3. APF Queen-Nellie Evans Scholarship

The APF Queen-Nellie Evans Scholarship supports minority graduate students who are committed to improving the conditions of marginalized communities. Both master’s and doctorate students are eligible, and preference is given to students preparing for a career in academia, clinical service delivery or public policy.

Amount: $4,000
Deadline: Nov. 15, 2021
Apply here: https://www.apa.org/apf/funding/evans?tab=1

4. Duke Energy Scholarship

Students who live in Vigo, Hendricks, Johnson or Wayne county in Indiana may be eligible for the Duke Energy Scholarship Program. Applicants must demonstrate financial need, have a minimum GPA of 2.5 and have completed a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Applicants must also submit a one-page personal statement of career interest.

Amount: Up to $4,000
Deadline: July 21, 2021
Apply here: https://scholarships.uncf.org/Program/Details/21e42838-271f-4adb-8db4-0392129bae1d

5. Albert W. Dent Graduate Student Scholarship

Designed for students pursuing a graduate degree in health care management, the Albert W. Dent Graduate Student Scholarship seeks to offset tuition costs, student loans and expenses. Students must be “racially/ethnically diverse” and be entering their final year of full-time study, and they must demonstrate financial need.

Amount: $5,000
Deadline: March 31, 2022 (applications open on Jan. 1, 2022)
Apply here: https://www.ache.org/membership/student-resources/albert-w-dent-graduate-student-scholarship

6. EPP/MSI Undergraduate Scholarship Program

Students attending an accredited minority-serving institution can apply for the EPP/MSI Undergraduate Scholarship Program. This scholarship is available to juniors majoring in STEM fields. In addition to college funding, scholars will complete two paid summer internships and will have the chance to present at an Education and Science Symposium.

Amount: Up to $45,000
Deadline: Applications open on Sept 1, 2021
Apply here: https://www.noaa.gov/office-education/epp-msi/undergraduate-scholarship

7. The Gates Scholarship

The Gates Scholarship Program awards 300 scholarships every year to students of color. You must be a high school senior in academic good standing and be eligible for the Pell Grant. Students must also identify as African American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian and Pacific Islander American and/or Hispanic American. The ideal candidate has demonstrated leadership skills and “exceptional” personal success skills.

Amount: Full cost of attendance not covered by financial aid
Deadline: Applications typically open in July
Apply here: https://www.thegatesscholarship.org/scholarship

Next steps

It’s one thing to browse college scholarships. It’s another to apply and manage your applications. Here’s what to do during your scholarship search:

  1. Keep track of applications and awards. Manage your awards in a spreadsheet or document that details the award, deadline, amount, requirements and application status. You may also want to note how you’ll get the funds, since some awards give money straight to students and others pay the school directly.
  2. See if you have enough money to pay for school. Track your estimated cost of attendance, including tuition and fees, room and board, transportation, food and other necessities. If there’s a chance that you don’t have enough money to cover all your needs, look into emergency student loans through your college or consider applying for a private student loan.
  3. Reapply for the FAFSA and complete applications for the upcoming year. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) requires an updated application every year. To avoid falling behind and ending up with more student loans than you need, set calendar reminders for your FAFSA and any renewable college scholarships.

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Written by
Dori Zinn
Contributing writer
Dori Zinn has been a personal finance journalist for more than a decade. Aside from her work for Bankrate, her bylines have appeared on CNET, Yahoo Finance, MSN Money, Wirecutter, Quartz, Inc. and more. She loves helping people learn about money, specializing in topics like investing, real estate, borrowing money and financial literacy.
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