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Scholarships are awards that give free money to prospective and current college students. Unlike student loans, scholarships don’t have to be paid back, which makes them a great way to offset the high costs of college.
To narrow down the pool of applicants, scholarships are often designed for specific groups of students. There are many scholarships available to LGBTQ students; take some time to scout them out and apply to the ones that best fit you and your college education.
Where to find LGBTQ scholarships
You can find LGBTQ scholarships at every level:
- Federal. Federal scholarships are geared toward students across the country.
- State. These scholarships are given only to students who live within a specific state. They might be state-sponsored or available through state-specific organizations.
- Local. Counties, cities and municipalities may offer scholarships to students who live or plan to go to school in a particular location.
- Institution. These scholarships are only for students who attend a certain college or university.
You can try to find scholarships by using scholarship search engines, including:
While many databases show a variety of available scholarships for LGBTQ students, they may not show everything. It’s a good idea to use regular search engines as well, as they can bring in results tailored to your major and location.
8 scholarships for LGBTQ students
With persistence, you can find scholarships designed for your needs and your interests. The scholarships below are not the only ones out there, but they’re a good place to start your search.
1. Acorn Equality Fund Scholarships
The Acorn Equality Fund provides scholarships to LGBTQ students who live in Illinois (any county except Cook, DuPage, Grundy, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry and Will). There are a number of scholarships available based on academics, financial need, community service, commitment to public health and political advocacy.
Applicants must provide personal information, include three references and write two essays: one essay specific to the scholarship they’re applying to and one personal essay. Students can apply for multiple scholarships but can only receive one award; separate applications are required for each scholarship.
Amount: $1,000 to $4,000
Deadline: 2024 application deadline not yet announced
Apply to the Acorn Equality Fund scholarships
2. National Gay Pilots Association Scholarship
The National Gay Pilots Association (NGPA) offers scholarships to students pursuing aviation as a career. While scholarships are not limited to students within the LGBT community, the scholarship committee looks for applicants who have somehow given back to that community.
Application requirements vary by each individual scholarship, but in general, applicants should be prepared to submit current flight certificates, logbook entries, transcripts and a resume. Applicants will also need to be a member of the NGPA.
Deadline: 2023 application window opens June 1
Apply to the National Gay Pilots Association scholarship
3. PFLAG Chapter Scholarship Programs
PFLAG describes itself as the “first and largest” organization for the LGBTQ+ community. There are PFLAG chapters in nearly every state, and many of these chapters offer scholarship programs to LGBT students and allies.
The application process, eligibility requirements, scholarship amounts and deadlines vary by state, so students should research their local or state-level PFLAG chapter to learn more about its specific scholarship details. Many chapters offer awards of at least $1,000.
Apply here: https://dev.pflag.org/localpflagscholarshipprograms
4. Star Farm Scholarship for LGBTQ+ Students
Available to high school seniors in New York, the Star Farm Scholarship was designed to help ensure that LGBTQ+ students get the support they need. New York high school seniors in 2023 can apply if they identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community.
The application process requires writing about how the scholarship would impact the student.
Deadline: July 15, 2023
Apply to the Star Farm scholarships for LGBTQ+ students
5. LGBTQIA+ in Advancing Tech & Data Science Scholarship
The LGBTQIA+ in Advancing Tech & Data Science scholarship aims to help queer youth who are interested in pursuing education in technology or data science. The scholarship is open to first-generation and low-income LGBTQIA+ high school students who intend to study science, technology, STEM or coding.
The application requires providing information about why the student is interested in this particular field of study and what the student hopes to accomplish with their education.
Deadline: July 15, 2023
Apply to the LGBTQIA+ in Advancing Tech & Data Science scholarship
6. M.R. Brooks Scholarship
The M.R. Brooks Scholarship was created to make higher education more accessible to LGBTQ+ single parents or the children of LGBTQ+ single parents. The scholarship is open to any high school or undergraduate student who is a single parent or is the child of a single parent that identifies as LGBTQ+.
The application requires providing information about your experience as a single parent or your experience as a child of an LGBTQ+ parent. Applicants must also provide details about how they intend to use their education and help the world.
Deadline: June 30, 2023
Apply to the M.R. Brooks Scholarship
7. UCLA Lambda Alumni Association Scholarship
The UCLA Lambda Alumni Association Scholarship is made available to incoming freshman students who will be attending UCLA.
To be eligible, students must “be an ally of or identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, or transgender in order to be considered for this award.” Applicants who are dedicated to LGBTQ leadership or have somehow demonstrated a commitment to the LGBTQ community will be given preference in the application review process.
Amount: Up to $5,000
Apply to the UCLA Lambda Alumni Association Scholarship
8. SOULE Foundation Scholarship
Created to provide support and promote educational advancement for LGBTQ youth and young people of color, the SOULE Foundation scholarship is open to students pursuing undergraduate or graduate degrees.
Eligibility criteria includes having a cumulative high school or college GPA of at least 2.5; having a high school diploma or GED and being enrolled in a U.S. accredited college or university as a full-time student. In addition, applicants must have submitted a FAFSA application and meet the eligibility criteria for the federal Pell Grant.
Applying requires providing two letters of recommendation.
Amount: Up to $5,000
Apply to the SOULE Foundation Scholarship
Other ways to find financial aid for school
While scholarships are one way to pay for school, they aren’t the only way. It’s a good idea to exhaust all of your free resources to pay for your college education. That way, if you need to borrow money, you only take on what you need. You may want to explore other ways to pay for school, including:
- Grants: When you fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you’ll receive a financial aid letter outlining what aid is available to you. If you have significant financial need, you may be eligible for the Pell Grant or state-sponsored grants.
- Work-study: Work-study programs match you with part-time work while in school. These jobs are usually more accommodating of class schedules, and the paycheck is intended to go toward tuition and fees. Work-study programs are need-based; you’ll see what programs you’re eligible for when you fill out the FAFSA.
- Student loans: Student loans can offer much more funding than free aid can, so they’re often a way to fill in any gaps in your financial aid. Federal loans are available through the FAFSA, while private student loans are available from a variety of banks, credit unions and online lenders. If you don’t qualify for a loan on your own, you may want to ask a parent or trusted friend to serve as a co-signer. Most student loans are repaid over a period of 10 to 25 years.
- Family and friends: If your family has the means, consider asking a relative or parent to help you cover the outstanding bill. You could even treat the money as an informal loan, with you and your relative negotiating an interest rate that is reasonable for both of you.
There are many scholarships available to help defray the costs of college for LGBTQ+ students. Scholarship search engines make it easy to find these opportunities. But it takes time to complete the applications and essays that are typically required, so start your research well before you’re packing to head off to college. Be sure you know when the application deadlines are, so that you don’t miss out on applying.