7 best scholarships for LGBTQ students

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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.

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.

7 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. NGPA Scholarship

The National Gay Pilots Association (NGPA) offers scholarships to students interested in a career in aviation. While the scholarship is not exclusive to LGBTQ students, applicants must provide evidence of volunteer work or advocacy within LGBTQ organizations. Applicants must be NGPA members at the time of application submission.

Amount: Varies
Deadline: Applications open on June 15, 2021
Apply here: https://www.ngpa.org/about_scholarships#pages

3. David Womack Memorial LGBT Scholarships

The IanThom Foundation offers two David Womack Memorial LGBT Scholarships: one for LGBTQ students in West Virginia and one for LGBTQ students in Alabama. For both scholarships, applicants must write a personal essay describing their background and life, educational history, goals for the future, charitable involvement and why they feel they should receive the scholarship.

Amount: $1,000
Deadline: June 30, 2021
Apply here: https://www.ianthom.org/Awards.html

4. Little Bird Scholarship for LGBTQI Immigrants

LGBTQ undergraduates attending school in New York City who do not hold U.S. citizenship, a green card or an F-1 visa are eligible for the Little Bird Scholarship for LGBTQI Immigrants. The scholarship, offered by the Stonewall Community Foundation, is designed to provide financial stability to undocumented immigrants, including refugees and individuals seeking or granted asylum.

Amount: $18,000
Deadline: June 25, 2021
Apply here: https://www.stonewallfoundation.org/scholarships

5. 49 Legacy Scholarship

The onePULSE Foundation offers the 49 Legacy Scholarships, designed to inspire and empower LGBTQ students who “embody love, hope, unity, courage and unconditional acceptance.”

Amount: Varies
Deadline: Applications open in November 2021
Apply here: https://onepulsefoundation.org/scholarships/

6. 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 submit a FAFSA form and provide the Fund with details about their living expenses. Applicants must 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/

7. 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 and $2,500
Deadline: March 31, 2022 (applications open on March 1, 2022)
Apply here: https://gammamufoundation.org/scholarship-guidelines/

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.

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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.
Edited by
Student loans editor