Financial Aid for Minority Students

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, from 2007-2008 the percentages of full-time undergraduate African-American, Pacific Islander, Hispanic, Native American, and multiracial students who received financial aid were all higher than that of white students. However, whites win 76% of scholarships and grants, meaning that far too often finances continue to remain a barrier for nonwhite students who wish to pursue higher education. Opportunities for scholarships, grants, and other forms of aid present themselves for every discipline, including counseling and the social sciences. The avenues that minority students may explore lead to further diversification in their respective fields, enriching it with differing perspectives in typically white-dominated environments. Below is a sampling of available scholarships for students of color, as well as information on different types of funding, how to file a FAFSA, and other application tips.

Scholarships for African-American Counseling Students

Better Brothers LA Book Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Applicants must identify as an African-American LGBTQ individual, be a resident of Los Angeles County, and have a minimum 2.5 GPA. Scholarship funds go toward purchasing textbooks and other educational materials. Applications must be submitted online.
Amount: $500-$1,500

CBC Spouses Education Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Applicants must be African-American or black students enrolled full-time as an undergraduate or graduate with a minimum 2.5 GPA. They should also show leadership qualities and take part in community service. There are two parts to the application process. The scholarship's website provides examples and step-by-step instructions.
Amount: $500-$8,200

Dr. Wynetta A. Frazier 'Sister to Sister' Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Applicant must be an African-American woman over 21 years of age enrolled in a college or university and pursuing a bachelor’s degree or higher. Applicants must be first-time or returning students whose education was interrupted due to familial or personal responsibilities. For additional information, interested students can contact National Hook-Up of Black Women, Inc. via the address or email on the organization's website.
Amount: $500

The Stephen C. Rose Scholarship for Psychology Research on African American Youth
Who Can Apply: Applicants must be members of the Association of Black Psychologists, and must submit a personal statement and an abstract of ongoing or proposed research into the mental health of black youth. In addition to a financial reward, scholarship recipients receive an invitation to present the results of their research at the Association of Black Psychologists national convention.
Amount: $1,000 plus travel stipend to the Association of Black Psychologists convention.

Ron Brown Scholar Program
Who Can Apply: This scholarship is open to African-American high school students. Students must participate in community service activities. The scholarship organization prefers applicants who display dedication and interest in public service, community engagement, entrepreneurship, and global citizenship (the four pillars of Ron Brown’s mission). Applications may be downloaded here.
Amount: $40,000

Professional Organizations for African-American Students

  • The Association of Black Psychologists: The Association of Black Psychologists maintains a commitment to mental health of black individuals. ABPSI offers an annual convention where students and professionals can find opportunities for networking and community outreach. Additionally, the organization recently debuted a research scholarship focused on black youth mental health.
  • African American Success Foundation: The African American Success Foundation is a national think tank composed of scholars, professionals, and organizers dedicated to promoting a positive image of African-Americans through scientific research and community outreach. They offers a number of grants to African-American graduate students.
  • The United Negro College Fund: The United Negro College Fund is the largest organization dedicated to minority education in the United States. They offer a wide range of scholarships, fellowships, and internships to people of color across America. The organization's print publication, Invest in Better Futures, provides an annual report on minority education success in the United States.

Scholarships for Hispanic and Latino Counseling Students

PepsiCo Cesar Chavez Latino Scholarship
Who Can Apply: This scholarship is offered to full-time undergraduate Latino students studying in Arizona and California. Academic standing, leadership, extracurricular activities, and community service will all be taken into account. This scholarship will be offered until 2021. Applications may be downloaded from the organization's website and must be mailed.
Amount: $5,000

Hispanic Scholarship Fund
Who Can Apply: High school seniors, undergrads, graduate students, and community college students entering a four-year program are all eligible to apply. High school students must have a minimum 3.0 GPA, and undergraduate or graduate students must have a minimum 2.5 GPA. If applicable, students will be required to fill out FAFSA. All majors are eligible to apply.
Amount: $500-$5,000

HENAAC Scholars Program
Who Can Apply: Applicants should have a minimum 3.0 GPA and must be pursuing a STEM-related degree. Demonstration of leadership abilities in the Hispanic community is also preferred. Applications must be submitted online. A FAQ page is available and recommended for students to read before beginning an application.
Amount: $500-$10,000

La Unidad Latina Foundation Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Undergraduate applicants must have completed one full-time year of study, and graduate applicants must have completed one full-time semester of study. A minimum 2.8 GPA is required. Applications may be submitted online or via mail.
Amount: $500-$1,000

Professional Organizations for Hispanic and Latino Students

  • La Unidad Latina Foundation: La Unidad Latina Foundation fosters opportunities for Latino education across the world, offering scholarships and college preparation help to low-income, first-generation, and undocumented candidates. The organization offers a number of programs toward preparing disadvantaged Latino students for higher education, such as the Y Tu También program, which includes workshops, mentorships, and networking events.
  • The Hispanic Scholarship Fund: The Hispanic Scholarship Fund provides resources to Latino/Hispanic students through an array of scholarships, college preparation resources, and conferences. HSF also provides young scholars with networking opportunities on subjects ranging from STEM studies to media. The fund also offers courses through its own online school.
  • Cesar Chavez Foundation: The Cesar Chavez Foundation offers a number of scholarships to Latino/Hispanic students in addition to a wide range of social advocacy programs, including tutoring programs for Latino students in school districts throughout California and learning centers within the organization’s affordable housing properties in Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas.

Scholarships for Native American Counseling Students

AAIA Sequoyah Graduate Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Applicants must provide proof of tribal enrollment. Students must be enrolled full-time with a minimum 2.5 GPA and pursuing an associate degree or above. A detailed FAQ page is available with additional information on topics such as qualifications and eligibility.
Amount: $1,500

Osage Nation Higher Education Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Applicants must be members of the Osage nation, pursuing higher education at an associate level or higher, and maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA. The application may be downloaded here. An additional opportunity, the Career Training Scholarship, is also available, though students may not receive both the Higher Education and Career Training scholarships.
Amount: Varies

American Indian College Fund Scholarships
Who Can Apply: Applicants may be undergraduates or graduates and should be enrolled in their respective tribe (or prove heritage through at least one parent or grandparent). A minimum 2.0 GPA is required. The Full Circle scholarship is open to students attending both non-tribal and tribal colleges or universities, while the TCU Scholarship is only available to learners attending tribal facilities. Interested students should check out the scholarship's FAQ page for more information on the differences between these two scholarships.
Amount: Varies

The American Indian Education Fund Undergraduate and Graduate Scholarship Programs
Who Can Apply: Full-time enrollment at a college or university and proof of tribal enrollment are required for both the undergraduate and graduate applications. The undergraduate application requires ACT scores. Funding is not offered for online colleges or universities.
Amount: Up to $2,000 per year

American Indian Nurse Scholarship Program
Who Can Apply: Students must be enrolled in their tribe or able to prove direct tribal ancestry. Learners should also plan on working with the Native American population, whether on a reservation or in a hospital serving mostly Native populations. Applicants may not receive both this scholarship and the Indian Health Service Scholarship. An application with more details on eligibility and requirements is available here.
Amount: $1,500 each semester

Professional Organizations for Native American Students

  • American Indian College Fund: The American Indian College Fund offers more than just scholarships: the organization's website also offers resources for topics such as college preparation, continuing education, and community outreach. The site also provides information on money management, career exploration, and alumni programs and opportunities.
  • American Indian Higher Education Consortium: AIHEC furthers opportunities for education across the 37 tribal nations of the U.S. through its advocacy for tribal colleges and universities, grant opportunities, workshops, and events like its annual conference in Bellingham, Washington. The AIHEC's first priority is maintaining tribal colleges and universities' right to self-determination and recognition from the federal government.
  • American Indian and Alaska Native Society of Indian Psychologists: AIANSIP advocates for the mental health of Native American and Alaskan natives through community outreach. The organization offers opportunities for professional development, such as a mentoring program and an annual conference.

Scholarships for Asian and Pacific Islander Counseling Students

APIASF Scholarship Program
Who Can Apply: Applicants should be undergraduates with a minimum 2.7 GPA or a GED. Applicants must also submit a FAFSA and a letter of recommendation with the application. This scholarship is offered by the Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund. Preference is given to students with significant financial need, first-generation college students, and/or applicants who show dedication to community service, leadership, and academic excellence.
Amount: $2,500-$15,000

The Stephen C. Rose Scholarship for Psychology Research on Asian American Youth
Who Can Apply: Applicants should be current members of the Asian American Psychological Association. The organization requires the submission of a 500-word proposed research abstract focusing on the health of Asian American students and a 500-word personal statement. The scholarship recipient receives an invitation to present their study at the Asian American Psychological Association convention.
Amount: $1,000 plus travel stipend for attending the AAPA convention to present research

Hsiao Memorial Social Sciences Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Graduates with a minimum 3.0 GPA who demonstrate financial need may apply. The scholarship organization prefers submissions from applicants working toward a degree in social science or economics with a focus on topics that aid Asian/Asian American communities. A link to download the application online (as well as resources for other scholarships) is available on the Asian Pacific Fund website.
Amount: $1,000

Chiyoko and Thomas Shimazaki Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Graduate students interested in a career in the medical field may apply. Applicants must be Japanese American Citizens League members. Scholarship brochures, applications, and other resources are available on the JACL website.
Amount: $5,000

Taiwanese American Scholarship Fund
Who Can Apply: This scholarship is offered to Taiwanese American high school students planning on attending college full-time. Applicants must be college students in their first year with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Students must demonstrate financial need and have a household income at or below the federal poverty level. Guidelines, a sample application, and a downloadable application are all available on the TASF website.
Amount: $5,000

Professional Organizations for Asian and Pacific Islander Students

  • Japanese American Citizens League: JACL is the oldest social advocacy and civil rights organization for Asian Americans in the world. The organization provides continuing education opportunities, social justice programs and funds, and numerous scholarships. Additionally, the group's National Youth/Student Council offers a mentorship experience for attendees of the JACL’s annual convention in Philadelphia.
  • Asian Pacific Fund: The Asian Pacific Fund is a nonprofit dedicated to Asian/Pacific education in the Bay Area. The fund supports initiatives such as the Growing Up Asian in America art contest offered to K-12 Bay Area students. Additionally, the fund offers a number of scholarships chiefly to Asian and Pacific Islander low-income students.
  • Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund: APIASF works toward furthering Asian and Pacific Islander education through an extensive network of resources that include programs, mentorships, scholarships, events, and funding for research into higher education. The organization’s higher education summit in Washington D.C. provides young professionals with continuing education and networking opportunities.

Scholarships for Undocumented Counseling Students

First in the Family Humanist Scholarship
Who Can Apply: This scholarship targets undocumented, LGBTQ, homeless, and foster care high school students in the Los Angeles Unified School District who are the first to attend college in their family. The scholarship organization requires applicants to compose a short essay on humanism and social justice. Preference is given to minorities and those involved in community service.
Amount: $1,000

Fontana Transport Inc. Scholars Program
Who Can Apply: Applicants should be first-generation undergraduates and are required to maintain a minimum 3.5 GPA. Proof of enrollment in a four-year university and a letter of recommendation should be submitted with the application. Eligible students may be pursuing a degree in transportation management, STEM fields, architecture, pre-med, psychology, or Spanish language and/or literature. Registration is available here.
Amount: $5,000

The Geneseo Migrant Center Scholarships
Who Can Apply: The Geneseo Migrant Center provides multiple scholarships to migrant and/or undocumented students. Award amounts vary. Most cater to high school students pursuing higher education at a college or university. The organization prefers students who volunteer and display community involvement. Eligibility and requirements vary. Applications are available on the organization's website.
Amount: $500-$2,000

The Dream.US National Scholarship
Who Can Apply: High school students, community college graduates with DACA or TPS, or students who met DACA criteria in the past and qualify for in-state tuition at a partner college may apply. Students must maintain full-time enrollment and a minimum 3.0 GPA. Award is renewable on an annual basis, and there is an option for online college enrollment as well.
Amount: $14,500 for an associate degree and $29,000 for a bachelor’s degree; $4,000 stipend for books, supplies, and transportation

CORE Que Llueva Café Scholarship
Who Can Apply: High school students or those with GEDs may apply. The organization prefers applicants with strong extracurricular involvement and academic promise. This scholarship has been offered for the past nine years and is open to all states in the U.S. (and also Puerto Rico).
Amount: $500

Professional Organizations for Undocumented Students

  • Chicano Organizing and Research in Education: CORE is a nonprofit dedicated to education for undocumented students. Over ten years, the Sacramento-based organization has awarded over $94,000 to undocumented students through its Que Llueva Café Scholarship. CORE also holds fundraising efforts (such as CORE Athletes) to support research and social outreach.
  • The Dream.US: The Dream.US offers opportunities for accessible education for DREAMers across America in the form of its National and Opportunity scholarships. Their website offers an extensive network of links to different resources for students and teachers, including a guide created with the Department of Education on financial aid for undocumented students.
  • Geneseo Migrant Center: Through its partnership with the Genesee Valley Education Partnership, the Geneseo Migrant Center provides a wide range of services to migrant workers, both in the local and national spheres, ranging from ESL instruction to medical plans. Additionally, the organization offers a number of scholarships to undocumented students.

Types of Funding Available for Counseling Students

Scholarships: Unlike loans, scholarships do not need to be paid back. Schools and other organizations award scholarships on the basis of merit, sometimes setting criteria that can vary from chosen major to GPA to place of residence. A 2011 study gave white students a 40% edge over winning private scholarships, suggesting that racial bias still remains in the awarding of scholarships described as 'merit-based'. Those interested in lower-level counseling positions would ideally take an interest in scholarships leading up to master's level, while students interested in progressing to a more invested degree in psychology would more likely consider scholarships offered to postgraduate students only.

Grants: In contrast to merit-based scholarships, grants are awarded according to financial need. Grants work to address systemic inequality and give the underprivileged a financial leg-up. Grants come in two distinct varieties—ethnic and nonethnic. While nonethnic grants approach the issue of inequality from the perspective of social class, ethnic grants further narrow the criteria to specifically benefit minorities. Organizations offer ethnic grants to non-white groups in order to provide social restitution to ethnicities that, as a whole, struggle for equal opportunity in American society.

Work-Study: If a student has filled out a FAFSA and demonstrates financial need, they may take advantage of a work-study program. Recipients work part-time for the school to help alleviate the cost of college. Though indicating interest in a work-study program greatly increases chances of securing one, it is possible to enter a work-study program after submitting the FAFSA form without indicating interest depending on the school’s deadline.

Federal Student Loans: Federal student loans offer students a better deal on shouldering educational costs than private loans. These loans boast lower interest rates and do not require students to begin paying them back until they finish school or cease to go to school full-time.

As of summer 2018 and under certain conditions, the federal government may forgive some amount of these loans for those who end up working in certain fields, such as teaching or nursing. Additionally, students who qualify for subsidized loans based on financial need do not have to pay interest—this is paid by the federal government. Unsubsidized loans, by contrast, require students to pay both the initial loan and accrued interest.

Private Loans: Private loans, provided by financial institutions such as banks, may prove necessary for some students when other avenues don’t cover all costs. Private loans incur greater interest rates, and financial institutions will not subsidize that interest. Private institutions base loan amounts in part on credit scores, and do not offer as flexible repayment plans as those offered by the federal government.

Filing the FAFSA

Students must fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form in order to apply for federal aid in the form of grants, loans, and work-study programs. FAFSA applications open October 1, and students have until June 30 of the next year to complete it. However, learners may also update their application by as late as September 14. It is recommended that students complete and submit their FAFSA paperwork as soon after October 1 as possible for priority consideration. To be eligible to receive federal aid, students must have a valid social security number; high school diploma, GED certificate, or certificate of homeschooling completion; and registration with the selective service (for males). Undocumented students may apply for FAFSA, but will need their alien registration number handy to complete the form. The federal government determines the amount of aid awarded to a student by subtracting their family’s expected financial contribution from cost of tuition.

Scholarship Application Tips:

  • Apply early: Applying early will show initiative to the provider. Additionally, it may increase your chances for receiving an award. Consider submitting an application early simply to prepare for unexpected circumstances that may disrupt your ability to submit the application closer to the scholarship application period's cut off point.
  • Research the scholarship provider: Take some time to research your scholarship provider. What sort of mission statement or philosophy guides the organization in question? What kind of candidate will they take a stronger interest in?
  • Research your personal family and ethnic history: If applying to a scholarship specifically for minorities, it follows that the required application essay may ask you to write a personal reflection piece focused on the challenges you have faced and/or overcome as an ethnic minority. Composing a compelling, sincere essay may require you to draw on your own background or history. This history could come from your own memory or from your family. Asking your family for help can go a long way.
  • Follow directions carefully: If the essay requires a certain word count, you want to stay within it. Should the essay call for a specific structure, follow it. Address the questions from the prompt meticulously and with an appropriate amount of attention. If the prompt wants you to give a definition of leadership, you need to draw on life experiences that relate to leadership and explicitly give a definition by the end.
  • Proofread with the help of a tutor: Though your essay should come from the heart, it should also be grammatically sound and logically structured. You may need guidance in order to get these elements right. Working with a writing tutor can give you a major advantage. Writing tutors may be available at your school or local library.

Additional Scholarship Resources for Counseling Students

  • Federal Student Aid: The website for the Federal Student Aid office offers students relevant guides and FAQ pages disambiguating subjects such as the various types of aid available and loan forgiveness. The site also features a page dedicated to college preparation tips.
  • This site offers a free search engine for scholarships across the nation. Additionally, the site divides its directory of scholarships into sections for specific ethnicities, veterans, first-generation students, and women. Students may also search through the directory by major. Printable guides for scholarship application prep-work are also offered.
  • Association of Latino Professionals For America: ALPFA supports the professional advancement of Latinos through continuing education opportunities, networking opportunities, and initiatives. The organization also offers collegiate scholarship programs for all majors.
  • Thurgood Marshall College Fund: The Thurgood Marshall College Fund provides professional development opportunities, entrepreneurship programs, and other services with an emphasis on serving historically black colleges. The fund offers a number of scholarships, fellowships, and internships in a variety of subjects through its partnerships with corporate entities.
  • ESCORT: ESCORT is an organization devoted to providing accessible education for children. The group works with educational agencies at the state and local levels to foster opportunities and resources for underserved populations, especially migrant farmworker children and those who don't speak English as their primary language.