Financial Aid for Minority Students

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), colleges and universities awarded double the number of bachelor’s degrees to Hispanic students in 2013-14 than in 2003-04. Concurrently, the number of bachelor’s degrees awarded to African-American and Asian students increased 46% and 43%, respectively. NCES also reports that 85% of African-American students and 80% of Hispanic students enrolled in full-time undergraduate programs received some type of grant in 2011-12 to help finance their studies.

Despite the above statistics, minorities continue to be overwhelmingly underrepresented in the demographics of students seeking higher education; financial hardship remains as a substantial barrier. To help encourage and enable more of these students, various charitable organizations make scholarships for minorities available, and this includes support for those who want to enter the nursing profession. As the elderly population grows, the country requires more nurses to meet healthcare needs. As a result, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the number of nurses will increase 15% by 2026. The U.S. benefits by ensuring minority students receive financial support for their nursing education. College scholarships for minorities who want to become nurses only help make the country and its people healthier.

Scholarships for African-American Nursing Students

National Black Nurses Association Scholarships
Amount: $1,000-$6,000
Deadline: April 15
Requirements: The organization offers an array of scholarships each year, including ones that support those pursuing their bachelor’s degree in nursing. Eligibility requires membership in a local chapter, current enrollment in a nursing program, and at least one full year of studies remaining. The organization offers nearly 20 scholarships each year.

The Jackie Robinson Foundation
Amount: Up to $30,000
Deadline: February 1
Requirements: This scholarship for graduating high school seniors targets those who plan to enroll in an accredited, four-year institution in the U.S. They must show leadership potential and a commitment to community service, be a U.S. citizen, and demonstrate financial need. This scholarship application requires regional interviews for semifinalists.

United Negro College Fund Scholarships
Amount: Varies
Deadline: Varies
Requirements: This organization awards a myriad of scholarships for minorities each year totaling over $100 million. These include scholarships to students who attend historically black colleges and universities and students who pursue specific areas of study, such as STEM and education. Some scholarship programs include the Fund II Foundation UNCF STEM Scholars Program, the UNCF/Koch Scholars Program, and the Walton K-12 Education Fellowship. Applicants should visit the website to explore the scholarships for which they may be eligible.

Ron Brown Scholar Program
Amount: Up to $10,000/year
Deadline: January 9
Requirements: This scholarship provides financial support for African-American high school seniors who demonstrate dedication to the four mission pillars of Ronald H. Brown: public service, community engagement, entrepreneurship, and global citizenship. Students should also exhibit academic excellence and leadership potential. In addition to financial support, this scholarship provides mentoring and networking opportunities. The application for the scholarship, along with additional information on the history of the program and Ronald H. Brown himself, can be found here.

The Agnes Jones Jackson Scholarship
Amount: 20 – 40 scholarships annually; up to $2,000/person
Deadline: TBD
Requirements: Applicants must be a member of the NAACP, enrolled in or accepted to a college or university, and exhibit financial need. High school seniors and undergraduates must have a 2.5 GPA or higher, and graduate students must have a 3.0 GPA or higher. This is a scholarship of the NAACP. Applicants must create an account and apply online here.

Professional Organizations for African-American Students

National Black Nurses Association Established in 1971, nearly 150,000 African-American nurses from the U.S., Canada, Eastern Caribbean, and African countries comprise NBNA membership through almost 100 chapters. Its mission is to provide a forum for African-Americans in the profession, including to promote and implement strategies that facilitate access to quality healthcare for people of color.
Black Caucus of Healthcare Workers Nearly a half century after its founding in 1968, this organization aims to reduce, if not completely eradicate, health disparities by improving the quality of life for those of African descent. It does so through research and advocacy, which include tracking and assessing health data and policies at the local, state, and federal levels.
National Urban League This organization supports African-Americans and underserved populations that reside in urban areas to become economically self-reliant. Established as the Committee on Urban Conditions Among Negroes in 1910, it promotes civil rights and advocates closing gaps in equality for African-American and ethnic groups when it comes to education, quality of life, and health and well-being.

Scholarships for Hispanic and Latino Nursing Students

National Association of Hispanic Nurses
Amount: $1,000-$5,000
Deadline: April 15
Requirements: Applicants must be NAHN members and enrolled in a licensed vocational nurse, licensed practical nurse, or other higher education degree in nursing. Scholarship recipients should demonstrate promise to contribute to the profession and the ability to serve as role models for others who aspire to enter it. Other factors include financial need, academic excellence, and other supporting documentation submitted with the application. Those who receive this financial aid for nursing school must attend the NAHN annual conference, where they are honored for their achievement. There are three scholarships offered by the NAHN, including the UnitedHealth Foundation, Hector Gonzalez Past Presidents Scholarship, and Nurse Tim Scholarship. Details on each can be found here.

Hispanic Scholarship Fund
Amount: $500 – $5,000
Deadline: April 2
Requirements: Applicants must be high school seniors, undergraduate students, graduate students, or community college students of Hispanic heritage. High school students must have earned at least a 3.0 GPA; college students must have earned at least a 2.5 GPA. Applicants may also be either DACA or eligible non-citizen students. In addition, the HSF particularly supports those who major in STEM disciplines.

Adelante U.S. Education Leadership Fund
Amount: Varies
Deadline: Offered annually between January and May
Requirements: Applicants should provide proof of enrollment in a college or university, a letter of recommendation, official transcripts, and maintain a specific GPA (depending on the scholarship). Millers Brewing Company and the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities together created Adelante in 1993.

League of United Latin American Citizens
Amount: $250 – $2,000
Deadline: March 31
Requirements: These college scholarships for minorities support underserved undergraduate and graduate students. The organization offers three college scholarships for minorities that each specify specific eligibility criteria, including grade point average and ACT/SAT score. Available scholarships include National Scholastic Achievement Awards, Honors Awards, and General Awards. The organization administers scholarships in collaboration with its LULAC Educational Service Centers. Together they have established the LULAC National Scholarship Fund.

Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute
Amount: $5,000/year in addition to a $1,000 stipend
Deadline: April 30
Requirements: CHCI offers scholarships for Hispanic students with leadership potential who are interested in the healthcare industry. In addition to providing financial assistance, it helps place students in internships so they can acquire hands-on learning experience in a community-based health organization. CHCH administers this scholarship in partnership with United Health Foundation.

Professional Organizations for Hispanic and Latino Students

National Association of Hispanic Nurses Established in 1975, this organization is the professional society for Latino nurses. It promotes high-quality healthcare to Latino communities and individuals and recognizes the outstanding contributions of Latino nurses. It aims to advance the education, professionalism, and leadership abilities of its members.
National Hispanic Medical Association Founded in 1994 to improve the health of Hispanic groups, NHMA collaborates with Hispanic medical societies, organizations for medical professionals and students, and an array of partners. It provides networking opportunities and serves as a resource for the federal government and White House by disseminating information to strengthen healthcare delivery to Hispanics.
League of United Latin American Citizens Founded in 1929, LULAC is the oldest Hispanic organization in the U.S. With some 132,000 members, its more than 1,000 councils across the country advocate for the political influence, health, education, housing, and civil rights of Hispanics of all nationality groups. It provides nearly $1 million in scholarships each year.

Scholarships for Native American Nursing Students

National Society of The Colonial Dames of America—American Indian Nurse Scholarship Program
Amount: $1,500
Deadline: June 2
Requirements: The NSCDA Scholarship assists learners who wish to enter nursing or another healthcare-related field. Recipients may use funds each semester for tuition, fees, and books. Those who receive the award are generally expected to work directly with the Native American population, such as on a reservation or within hospitals in areas with large Native American populations. Scholarship recipients may renew their application each semester to continue receiving support.

Association on American Indian Affairs Undergraduate Scholarships for Native American Student
Amount: Varies
Deadline: June 2
Requirements: Applicants must be enrolled in their tribe and provide proof of enrollment through a copy of the Tribal ID or official letter. They must attend an accredited school full-time and pursue either an associate or bachelor’s degree. Students must be enrolled in school in the fall and spring semesters and maintain a minimum 2.5 GPA. Scholarship recipients must renew their application at the end of the fall and spring semesters to receive their funds.

American Indian College Fund Scholarships
Amount: Varies
Deadline: May 31
Requirements: This fund supports undergraduate and graduate students. Applicants must be enrolled in either a state or federally recognized tribe or prove heritage through a parent or grandparent. Students must have a minimum 2.0 GPA. Students who apply for the Full Circle Scholarship may attend either a tribal or non-tribal college or university, while the TCU Scholarship is only available for those attending tribal colleges and universities. Check out the FAQ page on the AICF website for more information on the differences between the available scholarships.

Cherokee Nation Scholarship Program
Amount: Varies
Deadline: May 31
Requirements: Applicants must be a tribal citizen who plans to attend an accredited institution. Students who receive scholarships must perform volunteer hours for each $100 they receive. This scholarship program offers an array of funding opportunities, including the Haskell Indian Nations University Scholarship and Cherokee Nation Scholarship.

American Indian Education Fund
Amount: Up to $2,000/year
Deadline: April 4
Requirements: The fund’s undergraduate scholarships support American Indian and Alaska Native learners through over 200 scholarships each year. Applicants must provide documentation to verify they are enrolled in an American Indian tribe in addition to a transcript and SAT or ACT score. Applications are available at the undergraduate and graduate level. More information on the undergraduate application can be found here, and information on the graduate application can be found here.

Professional Organizations for Native American Students

National Alaska Native American Indian Nurses Association With a membership committed to the healthcare of American Indian and Alaska Native communities, this organization welcomes nurses and non-nurses who are committed to its mission. It strives to ensure people’s well-being as well as promote the nursing profession. NANINA welcomes members of any ethnic background.
Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science SACNAS envisions true diversity in STEM fields, specifically diversity that is reflective of the demographics of the population. It boasts 6,000 members and 115 chapters nationwide. Its resources include an online career center, a digital platform for resource sharing, and travel scholarships to attend its annual meeting: True diversity in STEM.
American Association on Indian Affairs Established as the Eastern Association on Indian Affairs in 1922, AAIA has helped lead the development of significant laws such as the Indian Child Welfare Act. It has also negotiated landmark agreements to protect sacred lands. In addition, it awards scholarships to students of Native American heritage.

Scholarships for Asian and Pacific Islander Nursing Students

Asian American/Pacific Islander Nurses Association Scholarship
Amount: $1,000
Deadline: June 10
Requirements: Individuals who have been AAPINA members for at least two years can apply. They must be enrolled in either an undergraduate or graduate nursing program with a minimum 3.5 GPA. The application requires an essay and two letters of recommendation.

Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund
Amount: Varies
Deadline: January 11
Requirements: The organization offers an array of scholarships for students enrolled in undergraduate studies. Those eligible live at or below the poverty level, are first-generation college students, demonstrate a commitment to service, and represent the organization’s attention to geographic and ethnic diversity. Their GPA should be at least 2.7. Additional resources and information on the scholarship fund can be found here.

Asian Pacific Fund
Amount: $1,000 – $20,000
Deadline: February 23
Requirements: This fund administers 10 scholarships each year to support the education of undergraduate and graduate students. Each scholarship maintains its own eligibility criteria, but all are for study at U.S. colleges and universities only. Applicants can apply for multiple scholarships. Many of these scholarships are renewable. The Asian Pacific Fund website offers many helpful links, including an app that helps students apply to multiple scholarships at once and a detailed FAQ page.

The Tang Scholarship
Amount: Up to $60,000 paid over four years
Deadline: February 23
Requirements: The scholarship supports Asian and Pacific Islander students who are part of the LGBT community. Applicants must be high school graduates in the San Francisco Bay Area and enrolled in full-time studies at a two- or four-year college or university. A minimum 3.0 GPA is required, along with demonstration of academic promise and financial hardship. Applicants must also be between 17-25 years of age on or before April 30, 2018. A downloadable application is available here.

Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership Scholarship & Internship Program
Amount: Varies
Deadline: February 28
Requirements: Three programs are offered, including the DC Public Service Internship, the Public Service Field Internship, and the DC Public Service Scholarship. All have similar but not identical requirements. All students applying for any of the above programs must be currently enrolled in a higher education institution with a minimum 3.0 GPA. U.S. citizenship is not required. Public Service Scholarship applicants must be undergraduates enrolled at a school that is a member of Midwest Asian American Students Union (MAASU) or located in a certain Midwestern states. CPAL’s scholarships provide financial support to undergraduate and graduate students who will serve in unpaid internships in the District of Columbia area. The funds support academically accomplished learners with the potential to positively influence their community. More information about each internship and the scholarship is available here.

Professional Organizations for Asian and Pacific Islander Students

Asian American/Pacific Islander Nurses Association AAPINA aims to ensure the health and well-being of Asian-American and Pacific Islanders worldwide. The organization supports nurses and nursing students and offers networking opportunities for its members. In addition, it influences health policy and partners with other health organizations for shared health causes.
Japanese American Citizens League Since its founding in 1929, the JACL has advocated for Asian American civil rights in the U.S. The organization carefully tracks human rights issues and leads strategies to ensure positive change occurs. More than 100 chapters comprise JACL’s membership.
National Association of Asian American Professionals This organization empowers Asian and Pacific Islander professionals by cultivating their leadership abilities and providing tools and resources to help them advance in their careers. NAAAP offers a myriad of professional and networking opportunities, including workshops and seminars. Launched in 1982, the organization also strives to connect with the community and to influence society, business, government, and education.

Scholarships for Undocumented Nursing Students

Latino Resources Scholarship
Amount: $500 – $2,000
Deadline: May 31
Requirements: The scholarship offers supports for students who exemplify leadership, community engagement, and academic achievement. All applicants must submit a financial aid report and award letter as well as verification of college enrollment. Applications must be submitted through email, and can be downloaded here.

PepsiCo Cesar Chavez Latino Scholarship Fund
Amount: $5,000/year
Deadline: June 8
Requirements: Targeting students of Latino descent, this scholarship supports those who reside in California and Arizona. The funds offer assistance to students who are either about to enroll in college or already engaged in college studies. Factors taken into consideration are academic excellence, leadership in extracurricular activities, volunteering within the community, and financial necessity. The fund will offer these scholarships until 2021.

The Dream.US
Amount: Up to $80,000 for a bachelor’s degree
Deadline: June 8
Requirements: The National Scholarship is offered to high school and community college graduates, and the Opportunity Scholarship is offered to high school graduates who are unable to afford in-state tuition. Students must maintain at least a 3.0 grade point average, have DACA or TPS status, and be enrolled or admitted to one of the Partner Colleges. More information on the National Scholarship can be found here, and information on the Opportunity Scholarship can be found here.

The Anhelo Project Dream Scholarship
Amount: Varies
Deadline: January 26
Requirements: This scholarship offers financial assistance through scholarships for minorities who are undocumented. Illinois students pursuing both undergraduate and graduate studies may apply. Factors taken into account are academic accomplishment, leadership abilities, and community involvement. Applicants must demonstrate at least a 2.5 GPA. F-1 student visa holders are ineligible for this scholarship.

California Strawberry Scholarship Program
Amount: $400 – $5,000
Deadline: October 1
Requirements: Those applying for this scholarship for the first time must be the child of a California strawberry picker during the past two harvest seasons as well as the current season. Applicants must demonstrate at least a 2.0 grade point average and be enrolled full-time in a higher education school or program. This includes trade schools, community colleges, and four-year universities and colleges. Scholarships are renewable.

Professional Organizations for Undocumented Students

National Association of Hispanic Nurses NAHN serves as the the professional society for Latino nurses. Founded in 1975, it advances best-in-class healthcare to benefit Latino communities and people. Furthermore, it honors outstanding achievement in the profession. The organization supports its members through ongoing training and education as well as networking opportunities.
Undocumented Students for Education Equity Undocumented students at Arizona State University founded this organization in 2016. USEEASU strives to provide resources for undocumented students and disseminate education to staff, faculty, and other involved parties to ultimately create more representation and opportunities within schools and outside of them for undocumented students seeking education and employment.
Asian Americans Advancing Justice Established in 1972, this membership association advocates for immigrant rights through legal counseling, policy influence, and delivery of direct services. Volunteers who support the organization can explore public interest issues in-depth in its various program areas. In some instances, volunteering may earn them course credit toward their degree. AAAJ is based in San Francisco.

Types of Funding Available for Nursing Students

  • Scholarships: In most instances, organizations award scholarships with attention to applicants’ academic achievement. The majority who receive them demonstrate educational accomplishment, as indicated by GPA, transcripts, and ACT or SAT scores. The amount you receive depends on the scholarship provider, and the same is true for the renewability of funds. Unlike some other forms of financial aid for college studies, you do not need to repay scholarships. You may need to meet specific criteria to maintain them, such as maintaining a minimum GPA. In addition, some scholarships include internship and mentoring opportunities.
  • Grants: If you receive grants for your nursing program studies, then you typically do not need to repay the funds, but they are less contingent on your academic achievement and merit. Instead, they are frequently included in a financial aid package. In some instances, you may be eligible for a grant because of your ethnicity.
  • Work-Study: Students typically find work-study as part of the financial aid package they receive. Like grants, this kind of aid is based on financial need, but it requires recipients to work to receive the funds. Students get them in the form of a paycheck, which they can use to pay tuition, expenses, housing, and related schooling costs. You do not need to repay work-study funds, and you can generally find work-study jobs on campus that allow you to work a few hours a week so as not to interfere with your college courses.
  • Federal Student Loans: The government provides loans to students who wish to earn their college degree. Students generally receive these loans at a low interest rate with various repayment options to return the funds over a period of time. If you receive subsidized Stafford loans, then the government pays your interest charges while you are in school, but this is not the case for unsubsidized Stafford loans. Nevertheless, you can typically defer repayment of unsubsidized loans until after you graduate. PLUS loans may also be an option—they don’t have a maximum amount and can help pay any education-related costs that other aid does not cover.
  • Private Loans: Private loans may be necessary if you still require financial support after receiving scholarships, grants, work-study, and federal loans. The amount you receive and the interest on the funds depends on your personal credit history. While the interest rate is most often higher than that for federal loans, it is generally less than the interest rate for credit card purchases. However, they are not subsidized and some may require that you begin to repay them even while you are enrolled in school. Also, you may have limited options to defer payments should you need to do so and your forbearance options may be limited as well.

Filing the FAFSA

The U.S. Department of Education offers the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which you can complete online. The office of Federal Student Aid is the country’s largest provider of financial aid for students. Based on the FAFSA you complete, the office develops a financial aid package for you that may include loans, work-study, and grants. In addition, some scholarship providers require you complete the FAFSA to verify your financial eligibility for their funds.

Federal Student Aid processes about 20 million FAFSAs each year and offers assistance to those who require help completing it; this includes making its website and information available in Spanish for non-native English speakers.

In addition, non-U.S. citizens may be eligible for financial aid. While DACA students cannot receive federal aid, they may qualify for state and college aid as well as some private scholarships. These students should consult a guidance counselor or college financial aid officer to determine if they should complete the FAFSA.

Filing a FAFSA requires your social security number or your Alien Registration number. You must also provide information from federal tax returns to verify income. The application deadline depends on your state of residence and the school year for which you are applying for aid.

Scholarship Application Tips

  1. Make Your Application Stand Out From The Pack: Be certain the scholarship applications you submit to help finance your nursing education highlight what makes you unique. This could include details about your background, your professional aspirations, and why entering the field is important to you. While sharing these kinds of intimate details about yourself may be uncomfortable at first, they could strategically distinguish you among hundreds of other applicants. Help the scholarship reviewers get a true sense of who you are as a person and nursing professional.
  2. Carefully Follow the Directions: Scholarship applicants may think all applications are essentially the same, and that can be a tremendous downfall. Never take for granted that you know how to complete each section of the application; read the instructions with diligence and care to ensure you are following them exactly. In addition, read each question attentively and take the time to think before you respond. Your essays should be coherent, articulate, and most importantly, answer the question.
  3. Practice Makes Perfect: Consider developing a practice or “dummy” application before the real thing. Going through the required steps helps you familiarize yourself with every section of the application as well as the documents and information you need to complete them. Performing a trial run before the final submission will also provide you the opportunity for review and reflection. This allows you to fine-tune your writing before you submit—and that kind of care and attention is what any great nurse should exemplify.
  4. Look Locally For Support: You can and should apply for national scholarships to help finance your nursing studies because these are fantastic sources of support. However, never fail to remember that scholarships for minorities may be available within your community. Local civic organizations and churches frequently offer scholarships to support learners who are academically talented, community-minded, and/or in need of fiscal resources to pursue their education. In addition, check with the college or university because it may offer unique scholarship opportunities that you’re eligible for.
  5. Do Not Become Discouraged: Remember, the competition for scholarships is fierce, so do not give up if you aren’t selected to receive the funds for some of the scholarships you applied for. Instead, review your submissions with a critical eye and ask yourself how you can improve them so they become stronger each time. In addition, you might ask a mentor or teacher to review your applications and provide candid feedback, which can also increase your chances of selection.

Additional Scholarship Resources for Nursing Students

National Student Nurses’ Association This organization awards close to $400,000 in scholarships each year for students from the associate to doctoral degree levels. The criteria vary and may include considerations of academic achievement, financial need, and involvement in nursing organizations. NSNA’s scholarship program enables them to fulfill their mission to further the education of nursing students nationwide.
NURSE Corps Scholarship Program Students of all degree levels are eligible to receive support for tuition and fees if they agree to work in a facility the government classifies as exhibiting a critical shortage of nurses. Called a Critical Shortage Facility, it is generally located in an area with underserved populations in the U.S. This program not only provides financial support for your education, but also allows you to give back to the communities that need your skills the most.
Minority Nurse Magazine In addition to providing information to minorities in the nursing profession, this publication provides a roster of scholarships available to nursing students. Among these is its own scholarship, which is awarded to bachelor’s and master’s students who demonstrate academic achievement. The magazine also provides a list of career opportunities.
AfterCollege-AACN Scholarship Fund This fund supports students pursuing their bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in nursing. It gives special consideration to those in RN-to-BSN and BSN-to-MSN programs as well as those studying to become nursing educators. It also gives preference to students seeking financial aid for accelerated nursing programs.
FAFSA The office of Federal Student Aid in the U.S. Department of Education administers and reviews submissions of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The government is the largest provider of financial aid for students, and many scholarships for minorities require completing the FAFSA to determine eligibility for their support.