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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.
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). 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: Sept. 23, 2022
Apply here: https://www.acornequalityfund.org/scholarships.html
2. Pride in Diversity Scholarship
The Pride in Diversity Scholarship is offered through Aronow.io and is awarded to a member of the LGBTQ+ community pursuing a degree in a STEM-related field.
Rather than an essay, applicants must submit a one- to two-minute video explaining their role in the LGBTQ+ and STEM communities and how this scholarship would benefit their education. Aronow.io will prioritize applicants who are facing financial hardship, transition-related medical costs or discrimination.
Deadline: Oct. 12, 2022
Apply here: https://bold.org/scholarships/pride-in-diversity-scholarship/
3. 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: July 31, 2022
Apply here: https://www.ngpa.org/scholarships?locale=en_us
4. 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
5. Gay’s Den Scholar Award
They Gay’s Den Scholar Award goes to LGTBQ+ individuals who are graduating from high school in Florida. The scholarship “seeks to encourage and uplift LGBTQ+ individuals so they can lead proud and successful lives.”
Applicants must write an essay describing the impact of their coming-out experience. They must also have a GPA of at least 2.5.
Deadline: June 30, 2022
Apply here: https://bold.org/scholarships/gays-den-scholar-award/
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.