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.
There are plenty of scholarship search engines that you can use to identify scholarships that you’re eligible for, 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.
5 best 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). To apply, applicants must write two essays: one essay specific to the scholarship they’re applying to and one personal essay.
Amount: $1,000 to $4,000
Deadline: Sept. 24, 2021
Apply here: https://www.acornequalityfund.org/scholarships.html
2. Davis-Putter Scholarship Fund
The Davis-Putter Scholarship Fund is open to LGBTQ students across the nation pursuing social and economic justice. These scholarships are need-based, meaning applicants must fill out the FAFSA and send in their Student Aid Report. Applicants must also submit a personal statement of no more than 1,000 words detailing their involvement with “progressive social activity” and how their education will benefit movements for social change.
Amount: Up to $15,000
Deadline: April 1, 2022 (applications open in January)
Apply here: https://davisputter.org/apply-for-scholarships/
3. Gamma Mu Scholarships Program
The Gamma Mu Scholarships is designed for gay men who have financial need and who demonstrate community involvement and leadership in promoting diversity and tolerance. In addition to four-year universities, students can use this scholarship at a trade, professional or vocational school.
Amount: $1,000 to $2,500
Deadline: March 31, 2022 (applications open on March 1, 2022)
Apply here: https://gammamufoundation.org/scholarship-guidelines/
4. Point Scholarship
The Point Foundation awards scholarships to members of the LGBTQ community who have a history of leadership, community involvement and academic achievement. The Point Foundation also evaluates financial need and students’ commitment to the betterment of the LGBTQ community.
Deadline: Jan. 26, 2022 (applications open on Nov. 1, 2021)
Apply here: https://pointfoundation.org/point-apply/apply-now/
5. Pride Foundation Scholarship
Residents of Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon or Washington who demonstrate financial need are eligible for the Pride Foundation Scholarship. This scholarship prioritizes students who lack a LGBTQ community support system and who face barriers to educational access. Additionally, applicants must show leadership potential in either the LGBTQ community or their chosen field of study.
Deadline: Applications open on Oct. 11, 2021
Apply here: https://pridefoundation.org/find-funding/scholarships/
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 available 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.