Exploring Graduate School Financial Aid for Minorities

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the average U.S. university charged graduate students $17,868 in tuition, fees, and room and board during the 2015-16 academic year. For most individuals, this figure represents a significant financial investment. As a result, many turn to financial aid to alleviate some or all of their educational expenses.

Financial Aid Information

Graduate students who attend accredited schools may be eligible for certain types of federal aid, such as direct unsubsidized loans, which offer recipients up to $20,500 per school year. Other federal aid opportunities include direct PLUS loans, TEACH Grants, and federal work-study grants. In addition, a variety of private companies, nonprofit organizations, community foundations, and other sources sponsor scholarships for graduate students. Many of these awards are reserved for students who belong to underrepresented minority groups.

Read on to find tips for securing scholarship aid, explore our extensive directory of scholarships for minority graduate students, and learn about other financial aid resources.

What to Look for When Searching for Grad School Scholarship Opportunities

As you research scholarship opportunities, it is important to examine the eligibility criteria for each award. Most scholarships maintain requirements such as minimum GPA, enrollment status, and state of residence, along with any stipulations regarding the recipient's gender and/or racial background.

The scholarship amount is another point to consider. Some awards provide a flat amount, such as $100 or $500, while others cover full tuition costs for one year or longer. Candidates should also determine how scholarship money is awarded. While many distribute funds in a single lump sum, some scholarships are disbursed periodically throughout the school year. Renewable scholarships offer recipients funding for each year they remain in school.

Members of minority groups have access to a variety of scholarship opportunities, and many professional organizations, nonprofit groups, cultural foundations, and private companies sponsor awards for minority students. In addition, colleges and universities often provide institutional scholarships and grants that target candidates from underrepresented groups.

Other scholarships assist students pursuing specific careers or degrees. Scholarships based on major, extracurricular activities, volunteer work, and hobbies are widely available. Students may also secure funding based on their family background. For example, many scholarships support candidates with parents in the military.

Below, we've listed scholarship opportunities for graduate students in the following minority groups:

American Indian and Alaska Native Asian and Pacific Islander Black and African American Hispanic and Latino/a

We've also compiled a list of general opportunities, including diversity scholarships. These nonspecific awards are available to members of any underrepresented or minority group.

This page focuses exclusively on scholarships for graduate students belonging to racial and ethnic minority groups. For more information about scholarships for students in other underrepresented demographics, please visit the following GoGrad pages:

Scholarship Search Directory

The following scholarship directory describes awards for graduate students who are members of minority racial and ethnic groups. Each profile includes the scholarship amount, eligibility information, application deadlines, and whether or not the award is renewable. For more information, please visit the links found in each award profile.

American Indian/Alaskan Native

Asian/Pacific Islander




Financial Aid, Scholarship and Advocacy Resources Directory

Locating and applying for scholarships and other forms of financial aid can be a challenging, confusing process. The following list includes guides, student networks, advocacy centers, and other helpful resources for minority grad students seeking scholarship support. The entries are listed alphabetically.

  • ABRCMS The Annual Biomedical Research Conference showcases presentations and exhibits from minority, first-generation, veteran, and disabled students earning degrees in STEM fields.
  • American Council on Education ACE's page dedicated to racial and ethnic minority students features news articles, upcoming events, and information about current advocacy activities.
  • America's Most Diverse Colleges This BestColleges ranking highlights the 25 most diverse institutions in the country. Selection criteria include on- and off-campus resources for minority students, school clubs and organizations, and financial assistance options.
  • Black Student Advocate Network This organization provides black/African-American students of all ages with assistance and support. The network's website features a collection of interviews with education professionals.
  • Building Bonds, Breaking B.A.R.S. These testimonials from African-American men who have attended UNC-Chapel Hill offers an insightful look at college life for people of color across the country.
  • Campus Ethnic Diversity This extensive list from U.S. News & World Report ranks U.S. colleges and universities according to their diversity index score, which indicates the overall percentage of students belonging to minority groups attending each school.
  • College Enrollment Rates Using data collected from 2000 to 2016, this NCES report details enrollment rates for undergraduate and graduate students belonging to different racial and ethnic groups.
  • College Resources for Diverse and Multicultural Students People of color, women, LGBTQIA students, and members of minority groups can all benefit from BestColleges' helpful list of resources.
  • College Scholarship Guide This informative post from The Simple Dollar provides scholarship seekers with helpful advice for each stage of the application process.
  • College Students of Color This 2018 article from Higher Education Today examines the ways in which attending college affects the emotional and mental health of students of color.
  • Guide to Scholarships for Minorities and New Americans DFW International's comprehensive overview of financial aid opportunities includes a scholarship directory for members of minority groups.
  • HBCUConnect Created in 1999, this online hub serves students and alumni of historically black colleges and universities. The site includes photos and videos, membership-based groups, job listings, and scholarship information.
  • Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities HACU was established in 1986 to promote inclusion of Hispanic and Latino students at U.S. schools. The association currently represents more than 450 colleges and universities in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, Latin America, and Europe.
  • How DACA Students Can Get Help Paying for College This 2018 piece from MarketWatch explores financial aid opportunities for DACA recipients, such as scholarships that do not require U.S. citizenship and private student loans.
  • The Neglected College Race Gap Published in 2018, this publication from the Center for American Progress uses statistics and anecdotal data to examine disparate graduation rates between students of color and their white counterparts.
  • Should I Tell Colleges I Am Asian-American? Yes Forbes makes the case for disclosing one's Asian-American background to admissions counselors in this 2018 article, which also includes general college application tips.
  • Student Diversity at More Than 4,600 Institutions Compiled by the Chronicle for Higher Education, this extensive report describes student racial and ethnic demographics at U.S. colleges and universities.
  • Today's College Students This infographic from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation offers a comprehensive overview of today's college students in terms of race, gender, age, and other identifying factors.
  • Tools for Success Aimed at Native American college students and their families, this 2018 publication provides useful information regarding college applications, financial aid, and postgraduate planning.
  • Ultimate Guide: How to Find and Secure Scholarships for College This helpful article from U.S. News & World Report describes common scholarship types and offers tips for finding and applying for awards.

For more information about online graduate degree opportunities, please visit our guides to Online Master's Degree and Programs and Online Ph.D. and Doctoral Programs.