With grants for education in the U.S. still primarily based on financial need, students in low-income groups continue to demonstrate the greatest need for financial assistance when it comes to a college education. African Americans are in this category, with income disparity continuing to prevent many students from pursuing a postsecondary degree. And while student loan debt is common for many students, wealth inequality between African Americans and other demographic groups also affects this component of higher education: the number of black college students increased by 74% over the last 14 years, at the same time that the percentage of black students in debt over $25,000 rose to 50%, while only 35% of white students graduated with the same amount of excessive debt.

And, while the dropout rate for black students is at an all-time low of only 8%, 69% of black students who do drop out reported that they chose to do so because of the threat of high student loan debt, compared with 43% of white students who dropped out for the same reason.

To help reduce debt after graduation, minorities including African Americans may be eligible for federal, state, and privately funded education grants to help them earn a college degree. There are several need- and merit-based grants for post-secondary education available to African Americans, including those specific to women, men, or for students pursuing a specific field of study, such as engineering or science. Grant amounts typically range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. As is the case for many grants, recipients may be required to reapply for funds annually and/or receive additional funds based on their academic progress.

Eligibility Requirements

Students applying to African American grants for education must be African American. Federal education grants are typically awarded based on the applicant’s financial needs, as determined initially by the FAFSA. State and privately funded African American grants may have separate or additional requirements based on the applicant’s place of residence, level of academic achievement, or planned course of study.


General African American Grants

AICPA Fellowship for Minority Doctoral Students

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  • Amount: $12,000
  • Deadline: May 15, 2017

Graduate students of African American or other minority descent who are studying accounting full time and plan to pursue CPA credentials are eligible for this fellowship. It is awarded by the American Institute of CPAs.

Ford Foundation Fellowship Program

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  • Amount: $24,000
  • Deadline: January 10, 2018

The Ford Foundation Fellowships provides three years of support to African American students and other minority groups who are pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy or a Doctor of Science in postsecondary education.

Frederick Douglass Distinguished Scholars Program

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  • Amount: Full scholarship
  • Deadline: Varies

Washington, D.C.’s American University hosts the FDDS program for first-year undergraduate students who plan to continue their education through graduate school. Designed especially to serve the needs of underserved populations, the FDDS provides a “full ride” to eligible students for each year of college study.

United Negro College Fund (UNCF)/Koch Scholars Program

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  • Amount: Up to $5,000
  • Deadline: April 1, 2017

The United Negro College Fund (UNCF), Koch Industries, and the Charles Koch Foundation offer this scholarship to undergraduate African American students in one of seven academic program areas, including accounting, history, and political science.

IMAGES

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  • Amount: Varies
  • Deadline: Varies

IMAGES is an acronym for Iowa Minority Academic Grant for Economic Success. These African American college grants are awarded at two levels to African American students (and other minority Iowa undergraduates) seeking their first degree.


Grants for African American Women

AAUW Selected Professional Focus Professions Group Fellowships

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  • Amount: $5,000-$18,000
  • Deadline: January 10, 2018

Open to female African American students and other women in historically underrepresented minorities, students in their second, third, and third-fourth year of business administration, law, or medicine are eligible for the Focus Professions Group Fellowship.

National Black Nurses Association

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  • Amount: $1,000-$6,000
  • Deadline: April 15, 2017

With more than 16 grants for African Americans available, the NBNA aims to encourage African American students, especially women, to pursue a career in nursing and nursing-related fields through higher education.

National Association of Black Journalists Awards

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  • Amount: Varies
  • Deadline: March 3, 2017

Offering more than 12 African American college grants to students and aspiring journalists within the black community, the NABJ funds specialized awards named after notable women in the industry, including the Patricia L. Tobin Media Professional Award and the Ida B. Wells Award, to honor black females pursuing this professional field.

Dr. Julianne Malveaux Scholarship

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  • Amount: Varies
  • Deadline: March 1, 2017

Offered by the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, Inc., the Malveaux Scholarship is awarded to a female African American student majoring in journalism, economics, or a related field as a college sophomore or junior enrolled at an accredited school. The scholarship’s theme is “black womens’ hands can rock the world.”

The Dr. Blanca Moore-Velez Woman of Substance Scholarship

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  • Amount: Varies
  • Deadline: March 1, 2017

Also offered through the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, Inc., the Woman of Substance scholarship is specifically for African American women over the age of 35 who are currently enrolled in an undergraduate college program. An essay is required as part of the application, on the topic of “challenges to the mature student and how I overcame them.”


Grants for African American Males

Pell Grant

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  • Amount: Maximum award is currently $5,815
  • Deadline: October-June, annually

Pell Grants, based on financial need as determined by the FAFSA, remain a reliable source of funds for eligible low-income students, including African American males who may fall in this bracket, as well as other underrepresented minority groups.

CUNY Opportunity Programs

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  • Amount: Varies
  • Deadline: Varies

The City University of New York (CUNY) offers a dedicated collection of grants and scholarships designed to promote diversity in higher education for minority groups on its New York campus and beyond. This includes the Black Male Initiative, one of the offered African American college grants.

Cornell University Graduate School Fellowships for Minorities

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  • Amount: Varies
  • Deadline: Varies

Cornell University offers more than 1,000 fellowships and grants for its students, including the Graduate School Fellowship for Minorities. This is aimed at inclusion and diversity among African American and other underrepresented students enrolled in college programs.

The National GEM Consortium Fellowship Program

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  • Amount: Minimum of $16,000
  • Deadline: November 15, 2017

GEM offers three fellowship programs for minority students in Master of Science in Engineering, Ph.D. in Engineering, and Ph.D. in Science degrees. Awards encompass a yearly stipend, along with full tuition and fees paid for by a GEM University Member through awards designed to increase the participation of underrepresented groups in post-graduate science and engineering education.

100 Black Men of Central Virginia Scholarship

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  • Amount: Varies
  • Deadline: March 31, 2017

Governed by the 100 Black Men of America organization, the Central Virginia chapter is just one among many to offer grants for African Americans, and specifically for black male undergraduates nationwide.