Financial Aid for Minority Students
| Psychology.org Staff
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Historically, minorities have been largely underrepresented in higher education. Recent census data illustrate staggering gaps between racial groups when it comes to educational attainment, with black students earning roughly half as many bachelor's and advanced degrees as white students. A similar study suggests economic and financial disadvantages contribute to this gap. The number of black, Hispanic, and Asian children who qualify as low income, poor, or in extreme poverty far outweigh their white counterparts.
These findings point to the importance of supporting minorities in higher education, especially in the field of psychology. Today, the major remains as popular as ever, with scholarships for minority graduate students in psychology on the rise. Aspiring psychology majors who happen to be African American, Latino/a, Asian American, Native American, or undocumented may pursue financial aid benefits for students with similar ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Psychology students can receive funding opportunities in the form of federal aid, scholarships, grants, loans, and work-study programs. Many programs prefer minority applicants who plan to serve their communities after graduation.
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Scholarships for African American Psychology Students
Amount: $18,000 Deadline: January 31
Applicants must enroll in a graduate program leading to a Ph.D. in sociology. Social psychology majors are also eligible. Applicants must belong to a minority group and hold status as a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, lawful resident, or DACA immigrant.
Amount: Up to $2,000 Deadline: Varies
Applicants must be current members of the NAACP, U.S. citizens, and under 25 years old. Candidates should be enrolled in or accepted to a U.S. college or university. Students should also hold a minimum GPA of 2.5 (high school seniors and undergraduates) or 3.0 (graduate students). The NAACP's Poise Foundation offers 20-40 scholarships each year.
Amount: Varies Deadline: Varies
This scholarship assists black students who plan to use psychology to improve the well-being of African and African-American communities. Applicants must belong to the the Association of Black Psychologists and enroll full time in a psychology college program.
Amount: $1,000 Deadline: April 7th
The Association of Black Psychologists grants this award to candidates conducting research on the mental health of African-American students on college campuses. Applicants must be current members of ABPsi. In addition to the monetary award, recipients receive a travel stipend to present of their research at the annual ABPsi conference.
Amount: $750 Deadline: May 15th
Applicants must conduct research into the psychology of African Americans with the potential to inform public policy. Papers should have a high likelihood of being published in a professional journal or industry publication. Candidates must be members of ABPsi. In addition to the monetary award, recipients receive a travel stipend to attend the annual ABPsi conference. ABPsi may ask recipients to present their research.
Professional Organizations for African American Students
- Association of Black Psychologists
- The Association of Black Psychologists has created a comprehensive scholarship resource list, vetted for opportunities specific to African-American and minority students. The organization offers different levels of membership for undergraduate students, graduate students, and early-career professionals
- Black Therapist Network
- A potential resource for African-American psychology students completing clinical hours or seeking mentorship from professional psychologists, Black Therapist Network connects therapists to clients and each other. The site occasionally features scholarships and continuing education opportunities on its resources page.
- African American Therapists
- Primarily a directory of African-American mental health service providers, this site also maintains a highly active blog-style news section. The frequently updated resources page provides information for students seeking financial aid, professionals searching for jobs, and mental health workers interested in networking and development.
Scholarships for Hispanic and Latino Psychology Students
Amount:$5,000 Deadline: October 30
Applicants must be minority students and members of the National Association of School Psychologists. Candidates should have a minimum 3.0 GPA, enroll in an NASP-approved school psychology program, and pursue a career in school psychology after graduation. Doctoral students are not eligible.
Amount: $500 Deadline: July 15
The National Latina/o Psychological Association awards this scholarship to NLPA members who have made extraordinary contributions to the Latina/o community. Candidates demonstrate service such as developing mental health legislation, creating educational or outreach programs, and fundraising.
Amount: $500 Deadline: July 15
Applicants must be graduate dissertation candidates conducting research in Latino psychology who presented their findings since the most recent NLPA conference. Nominations for this award must include the date the dissertation project was defended and a reference letter from the applicant's dissertation chairperson.
Amount: $500 Deadline: July 15
Applicants must conduct dissertation research into psychological theory or practice specifically affecting Latino populations. Candidates may also complete a dissertation project that makes a significant professional contribution to the Latino community through the study of psychology.
Amount: $2,000-$3,500 or $15,000 Deadline: October 15
Applicants must be graduating high school in 2019 and entering college in 2019-2020. The program selects Hispanic students who demonstrate leadership and community service. Candidates should possess U.S. citizenship, DACA eligibility, or permanent residency status. Recipients must attend a regional awards ceremony at their own expense.
Professional Organizations for Hispanic and Latino Students
- National Latina/o Psychological Association
- NLPA offers exclusive training, continuing education, teaching, and funding opportunities. The organization features its own travel scholarships, as well as an award in honor of Dr. Adriana Pellicari Rodriguez. NLPA hosts a job board for psychology graduates.
- Hispanic Heritage Foundation
- The Hispanic Heritage Foundation promotes minority development in a wide variety of academic majors, including coding, science, and education. Although the organization maintains a high profile for its Hispanic Heritage Awards and Youth Awards, it also offers a unique video game innovation fellowship and workforce development program. The foundation holds extensive education and community partnerships with many institutions nationwide.
- Hispanic Scholarship Fund
- The HSF supports higher education for Latinos by fostering major national and international corporate partnerships. In addition to awarding the competitive HSF Scholarship each year, the organization hosts networking opportunities for prior award winners, a STEM summit, and youth leadership programs for high school and college students.
Scholarships for Native American Psychology Students
Amount: Varies Deadline: Varies
Applicants must enroll in pre-professional, bachelor's-level coursework that will eventually lead to a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. Student must attend a public or nonprofit university accredited by the American Psychological Association.
Amount: Varies Deadline: Varies
Eligible candidates include Native Americans and American Indians who are members of a federally recognized tribe. Candidates must enroll in an APA-accredited doctoral clinical psychology program. Recipients must begin service commitments within 90 days of completing their professional training.
Amount: Varies Deadline: May 1
Applicants must demonstrate significant research, clinical, or educational practice. Candidates may also develop programs involving cultural revitalization, advocacy, or wellness within the Native-American community.
Amount: Varies Deadline: May 1 for summer session; November 1 for winter session
Johns Hopkins University grants this award to Native-American or Alaska-Native students, scholars, and professionals in health-related disciplines. Candidates should express interest in attending a winter or summer intensive at Johns Hopkins' Center for American Indian Health.
Amount: Varies Deadline: April 13
IHS offers preparatory, pre-graduate, and health professions scholarships for students and professionals in approved health-related fields. Options include pre-clinical psychology, counseling, and clinical psychology. Eligible candidates must be members or descendants of a federally recognized American Indian tribe or Native Alaskan territory. Applicants should have U.S. citizenship or naturalization status and at least a 2.0 GPA. Recipients must plan to serve the Indian population in their career.
Professional Organizations for Native American Students
- Asian American Psychological Association
- The AAPA provides eight awards, fellowships, and research grants to members at various stages of their education and career. AAPA also offers student membership rates and discounted AAPA convention registration for members. The organization hosts a consortium for undergraduates interested in psychology.
- Asian Psychological Association
- APsyA unites Asian psychologists, mental health professionals living in Asia, and psychologists specializing in issues affecting the Asian population. APsyA is unique for its focus on international networking and scholarship. The association hosts a convention every 2-4 years and circulates publications on issues affecting the Asian psychology community.
- AAPA Division on South Asian Americans
- The Division on South Asian Americans provides members with mentorship, professional training, and networking opportunities. The organization supports fellowship opportunities specific to South Asian psychologists. Topics include the role of female South Asian immigrants in the U.S. and bicultural identity conflicts.
Scholarships for Asian and Pacific-Islander Psychology Students
Amount: $500 Deadline: February 1
The Asian American Psychological Association - Division on Filipino Americans awards this scholarship to graduating seniors in pursuit of a Ph.D. or MA in psychology. Students in the first two years of graduate study may also apply.
Amount: $500 Deadline: April 1
Applicants may submit grant proposals to the Asian American Psychological Association for projects contributing to the research and advancement of Asian American psychology. Awards last for up to one year.
Amount: $3,000 Deadline: June 30
Applicants must be members of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology with ethnic minority status. Candidates must enroll full time in a Ph.D. program in industrial/organizational psychology at a regionally accredited school.
Amount: $20,000 Deadline: Varies
The Okura Mental Health Leadership Foundation and the Asian American Psychological Foundation award this fellowship to researchers, educators, and practitioners helping to advance the study and treatment of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
Amount: Varies Deadline: September 1
The community leadership award recognizes members of the Asian-American psychology community who demonstrate outstanding achievements in service or leadership. Recipients may work in psychology, psychiatry, social work, or medicine.
Professional Organizations for Asian and Pacific Islander Students
- Society of Indian Psychologists
- The American-Indian and Alaska-Native Society of Indian Psychologists offers various levels of membership, including options for aspiring members experiencing financial hardship. The organizations encourages student members to participate in its annual conference and retreat, pursue mentorships through the organization, and access data through the website for tribal and professional research.
- Indian Health Service
- The federal health program for American Indians and Alaska Natives, IHS provides up-to-date advocacy news, as well as community service, externship, and continuing education opportunities for Native-American students. The site also features career opportunities, federal financial aid information, scholarship data, and loan assistance.
- National Indian Health Board
- NIHB offers a variety of financial aid resources, including travel expenses for conference meetings, behavioral health grants, and nomination-based awards for Native minority groups. NIHB also features comprehensive, updated listings of leadership and advocacy opportunities in the public, community, and mental health sectors.
Scholarships for Undocumented Psychology Students
Amount: Varies Deadline: March 1
This scholarship awards up to $14,500 towards an associate degree; up to $29,000 towards a bachelor's degree. Comparable to the Department of Education's federal Pell Grant, this national scholarship is one of the largest programs for students with certified DACA or TPS status. Applicants must be high school seniors planning to pursue an undergraduate degree or community college graduates planning to pursue a bachelor's degree. Applicants should have a minimum 2.5 GPA and unmet financial need. Students must intend to enroll full-time and be eligible for in-state tuition at a partner college. Students may qualify for an additional $4,000 stipend for supplies.
Amount: Up to $80,000 Deadline: January 23
The Dream offers an opportunity scholarship to students pursuing higher education in a "locked out" state that either does not offer in-state tuition or does not admit DACA or TPS students. Applicants must be high school seniors or graduates with a minimum 2.8 GPA and SAT or ACT scores. Candidates must have DACA or TPS status. Recipients should enroll in an undergraduate program at one of the Dream's partner colleges no later than spring of the following year. The scholarship application also serves as the admissions application for the Dream partner schools.
Amount: $5,000 Deadline: June 8
Applicants must be of Latino/a descent, have a minimum 3.0 GPA, and enroll full time in an undergraduate degree program in Arizona or California. Students may be U.S. citizens, legal residents, undocumented immigrants, DACA recipients, or other non-citizens. Pepsico offers this scholarship to 10 students each year until 2021.
Amount: $1,500 Deadline: May 31
Applicants must be DACA or TPS students enrolled in or applying to an accredited college or university. Since the scholarship emphasizes technology-inspired innovation among minority students, applicants must submit written responses describing the impact -- inspired by technology -- they hope to make in the world. Candidates should also submit essays addressing what the American Dream means to them and what they have achieved despite hardships in their lives. Boundless Immigration Inc. offers two scholarships each year.
Amount: Varies Deadline: November 1
This award provides a stipend of up to $25,000, plus 50% of tuition and fees per year (up to $20,000). The P.D. Soros Fellowship assists immigrants and the children of immigrants. Applicants must be 30 years of age or younger at the time of application, and must be enrolled in or applying to a full-time graduate program in the U.S. Current graduate students may only seek funding for their program within the first two years of study. Both of each applicant's parents must have been born outside of the U.S. as non-U.S. citizens. Each fellowship applies for one to two years of graduate study.
Professional Organizations for Undocumented Students
- United We Dream
- United We Dream focuses on four primary areas of advocacy for immigrants to the U.S., one of which is access to education for DACA students. In addition to hosting information on scholarship opportunities, United We Dream supports initiatives such as National Immigrant Resilience Day and immigrant certification training services.
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
- The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website offers the latest news and regulations concerning DACA status and eligibility. Here, students may apply for DACA for the first time, renew their DACA, and review up-to-date information about national citizenship services and immigration enforcement procedures in their state.
- Community College Consortium for Immigrant Education
- CCCIE promotes collaboration among international scholars. The organization shares student success stories in order to encourage higher education for immigrants and undocumented youths in the U.S. CCCIE offers outreach through nonprofit partnerships, continuing education and training opportunities, and advocacy programs for individuals and institutions of higher learning.
Types of Funding Available for Psychology Students
The following types of funding are listed from least likely to most likely to incur debt.
Perhaps the most highly sought-after form of "free" financial aid, scholarships typically reward students for their academic and personal achievements. Students do not have to pay back any portion of a scholarship. National associations, individual schools, private foundations, and other organizations all offer scholarships for minority graduate students in psychology. Each scholarship includes different requirements. For example, some minority-specific psychology scholarships may require study in a particular field or a period of community service after graduation. Scholarship recipients may also pursue need-based funding through federal grants and work-study programs. With no interest or repayment obligations, scholarships are the best method of financial aid for college students.
Grants, like scholarships, do not need to be paid back. Students typically receive grants based on financial need. When it comes to grants for minorities, there are two main categories -- ethnic and non-ethnic. Applicants belonging to a racial minority qualify for ethnic minority grants, while non-ethnic grants are reserved for students with physical or learning disabilities or another minority group. Ethnic minority grants may be of particular interest to graduate students in psychology, since they can help fund a study abroad experience, research project, or dissertation.
Federal work-study programs provide students with part-time jobs to help cover the cost of tuition, books, housing, and other expenses. Upon reviewing your FAFSA, the Department of Education determines if you are eligible for work-study and, if so, lists your maximum award for the academic year. Students receive minimum wage, subject to their school's available funds for work-study awards. Students may work for their school, a public agency, or a local nonprofit organization, depending on availability. In some cases, minority students in a psychology program may receive a work-study opportunity related to their major. However, these positions may be limited, since schools must apply at least 7% of work-study awards to community service jobs.
Federal Student Loans
The Department of Education offers direct loans and Perkins loans. These financial aid options are funded by the federal government and your school, respectively. Federal direct loans may be subsidized or unsubsidized based on financial need. Other options include direct PLUS loans, which help graduate students and the families of undergraduate students cover educational expenses in excess of other financial aid. Direct consolidation loans combine all loans into one sum through a single third-party servicer. Unlike grants and scholarships, loans require students to pay back the initial amount with interest. Federal student loans offer lower interest rates and more forgiving repayment schedules than private loans.
Once all of the above forms of financial aid have been exhausted, students may pursue a loan through a private lender. While private loans can be helpful in providing additional financial aid to responsible borrowers, this type of aid can rapidly increase student debt for those who borrow too much or misunderstand the terms of their agreement. Many banks and businesses offer private student loans. Some banks even manage a subsidiary division specifically for loan servicing, such as Citizens One and Sallie Mae. Unlike federal student loans managed through the Department of Education, private loans require higher interest rates and less flexible repayment terms. These loans typically require a credit check or a cosigner.
Filing the FAFSA
Whether you are broadly considering grants for an undergraduate degree, or specifically pursuing scholarships for minority females in psychology, all paths leading to financial aid begin with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Filing the FAFSA is mandatory to determine your eligibility for federal grants, scholarships, work-study awards, and federal loans. The FAFSA even informs the lending process for private loans, as some banks and other loan servicers set interest or repayment terms based on your FAFSA status.
The FAFSA is available to both English-speaking and Spanish-speaking students. However, applicants must be citizens or eligible non-citizens of the U.S. to apply. Undocumented immigrants cannot access aid through the FAFSA. Other eligibility requirements include a high school diploma or GED, enrollment in a certificate or degree program, continued academic progress at a satisfactory level, and registration with the Selective Service System. Applicants cannot be in default on a federal student loan or have a conviction for the sale or possession of illegal drugs while receiving federal student aid.
The FAFSA works by estimating each student's estimated family contribution. The Department of Education then calculates the student's maximum federal award. Schools use the data to determine institutional scholarships, work-study, and loan limits. While applicants have between October 1 and June 30 to complete the FAFSA, the Department of Education encourages students to apply as early as possible. Early filing allows you to access limited federal funding opportunities and expedite reporting to other potential sources of financial aid.
Items needed to complete the FAFSA include:
- Your social security number (or alien registration number for non-citizens)
- Federal income tax returns, and income statements such as 1040s or W-2s
- Bank account statements and investment records, if applicable
- Untaxed income records, if applicable
- An FSA ID (your electronic login if filing online)
Scholarship Application Tips
Understand Your Options
Start by contacting organizations in your community or school that provide resources to underserved populations. Options include the NAACP and the Black Student Association. Consider explaining your position as an aspiring college student and asking about awards such as scholarships for minority females in psychology. Also request tips on how to successfully apply for financial aid as a minority student. You may be surprised at the response you get for showing such initiative and taking command of your application process. Worst case scenario, your contact gives you information you already know. At best, you'll receive some insight into how to submit exactly what the scholarship committees are looking for.
Start Early, Get Organized
While it may be your style to do things last minute, haphazard applications are a surefire way to get passed over for scholarships, no matter how impressive your qualifications. Pursuing financial aid is a crucial aspect of the college application process, and the time you spend organizing your materials should reflect how important the scholarship is to you and your education. The committee reviewing your application will likely award scholarships to students who can follow directions precisely, in addition to meeting eligibility requirements.
Put Time and Effort into Your Essays
Many scholarships for minority students in psychology require compelling essays as an important component of the application process. Scholarship committees often consider an applicant's mission statement, academic aspirations, and life experiences just as much as merit-based and need-based qualifications. Scholarships require an essay for a specific reason, so be sure to take your time, be genuine, and let your personality come through.
Ask an Experienced Applicant
Consider consulting an older family member, friend, alum, or mentor who has successfully applied for scholarships as a minority student. While your predecessors may not have applied for exactly the same awards as you, they may be able to offer invaluable insight into what the selection committee was looking for. Many applicants have mastered the process by applying for several types of aid, including scholarships for minority graduate students in psychology, grants for doctoral psychology dissertation research, and awards for students with significant financial need.
Solicit Letters of Recommendation
While letters of recommendation are one of the key components of a scholarship application, they can also be the most unpredictable. You must rely on each individual source to submit their recommendation by the deadline. Assume the letters of recommendation will take longer than expected, and consider soliciting the letters as early as possible. Giving yourself plenty of time means you can avoid feeling rushed, and avoid rushing those writing your recommendations.
Additional Scholarship Resources for Psychology Students
- Ethnic Minority Psychological Associations: The American Psychological Association (APA) houses psychological associations for African Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans. The APA also hosts the Society for the Psychological Study of Culture, Ethnicity, and Race. Scholarship seekers can access financial aid opportunities exclusive to members of the minority-specific associations of APA.
- Department of Education Scholarships for Minorities: The Department of Education's scholarship list for underserved student populations features comprehensive information about some of the nation's largest scholarships and grants for minority students, including the Gates Millenium Scholarship and the Generation Google Scholarship. Although open to all minority groups, the website includes awards funded by the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
- Federal Grants Wire: Not limited to educational awards, the Federal Grants Wire directory includes potentially obscure sources of funding for college-bound minority students. Students can search for grant opportunities by region, major, subject, and ethnic classification. The site also features instructions and tips for applying to a federal grant program.
- Department of Education Grants: The Department of Education's site walks students through the process of applying for federal programs such as the Pell Grant. The page directs students to additional opportunities such as work-study and IES funding through the Department's Institute for Education Sciences. Students may also search for grants by eligibility requirements and learn upcoming grant opportunities.
- Department of Education DACA Resources: Sponsored by the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, the Department of Education created a comprehensive resource guide for DACA recipients and other undocumented high school and college students. In addition to crucial tips for understanding non-citizen rights and accessing DACA education records in the U.S., the site features a list of federally funded programs and private scholarships that offer funding to undocumented students.