Minority Student Grants
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The term 'minority' refers to a portion of the population that has been or remains marginalized or disenfranchised from the perceived 'majority'. A persons minority status is usually determined by race, ethnic heritage or gender – although religious and sexual orientation can also be delineating factors.
Historically, African American students have been the most visible minority group battling obstacles to a higher eduction. Facing segregation and entrenched poverty many black students found it nearly impossible to go to college. To help right that wrong many exclusively African American universities were founded across the country. These have grown to comprise the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) of America. Working with the U.S. Department of Education these universities provide financial aid to African American students hoping to pursue their college education. One of the other prime sources of support and encouragement for African American students is the United Negro College Fund. The UNCF annually helps more than 60.000 students realized theirs dreams of a higher education.
Who are the "new" Minority Students?
Recent census reports have shown that Hispanics are now the largest minority group in the United States. Just as African Americans have been historically under represented in colleges and universities so too has the American Hispanic population. Many groups are now working tirelessly to provide Hispanic and Latin American students the opportunity to go to college. Most notably, the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, which works alongside the Federal government, corporations, and America's top colleges to encourage and support Hispanic students in their college careers.
Many ethnic groups have found it difficult to enter the college realm due to their marginalization from the perceived majority population. Through the years both private organizations and government programs have worked to help balance the scales. A few examples of minority groups and organizations devoted to supporting their dreams of higher education include:
- Native Americans – Many organizations encourage and support Native American students such as The Society for American Archeology and the Catching The Dream Foundation both of which offer Native American students scholarships and other financial aid to help them through college
- Asian Americans – The Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund has been supplying grants and scholarships to Asian American students since 2003.
But 'minority' doesn't always mean ethnicity. In many sectors of post secondary education as well as the national workforce women have been historically under represented. To help integrate more women into academic life and the workplace in general both the Federal government and private organizations like Womens Net offer grants and scholarships to women pursuing their college dreams.
Minority Grants for STEM Studies
The core STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – have long been dominated by the white male majority. Now, with corporations and institutions recognizing the value in and the need for diversification in these crucial fields many grant and scholarship programs have been introduced to encourage all minority groups, especially women, to pursue these studies. In 2011, working in cooperation with 12 major universities, the U.S. Department of Education introduced the Minority Science and Engineering Improvement Program which sponsors grants to minority students attending university to study in one of the crucial STEM disciplines.
Sources for Minority College Grants
Minority grants are abundant though knowing where to begin your search may be confusing. Here's a basic step-by-step planning guide:
- Apply for Federal loan, scholarship and grant programs by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
- Federal grants are your first source for college aid. If you're pursuing a healthcare or nursing course of study make sure you investigate all of the Federal grant programs available, including the HRSA Nursing program, and the National Health Services Corps.
- Find out what grants your state government offers. For example:Wisconsin offers a couple of education grants to American Indian students while Texas and Florida offer grants to Hispanic students.
- Your college or university should be a primary source for minority assistance, both in grants and scholarships.
- Professional organizations and associations such as the American Association of Hispanic Certified Public Accountants and the National Black Nurses' Association provide support to students usually in the form of scholarships and grants. Student memberships may also get you access to research and travel grants.
- Local businesses and organizations are often overlooked when you go searching for college grant money. Don't overlook the funds, however small, a local organization may provide for a student just like you.
The first rule when applying for a grant or scholarship, whether you are a minority student or not, is persistence. Many students lack the commitment or motivation to follow through with all of the work involved in securing the right college grant or scholarship. If you have the motivation, and you are prepared to put in the work required to search for, find and apply to all of the grant programs available to you, you're chances of securing a grant or scholarship for your college education increases by leaps and bounds.