Although Hispanics are one the largest minority groups in the country, with 52 million people, statistics reveal that Hispanics have the lowest rate of college attendance among America’s minorities. Overall, only 13% have a 4-year college degree. There are several factors for the under-representation of Hispanic and Latino college graduates and one reason is the financial barrier these students face when deciding if they should pursue their college education. There are various scholarships and grants for Hispanic students that aim to bridge this gap by assisting eligible candidates to pay for college.

Hispanic Student in ClassIf you are Hispanic and are researching your options for funding your college education, before considering a loan, make sure to weigh your other options first. It’s always better to get money that doesn’t need to be repaid as opposed to taking on a debt.

College Grants from the Government

The United States Government provides several grants to help students pay for college. Your absolute first step for sourcing money for college should be filling out the government’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid, called the FAFSA, which, based on your financial status and other factors, will determine if you are eligible for The Pell Grant, or any other government grants that do not need to be paid back. Students that come from lower to mid income families are likely to receive this Federal Aid. If for whatever reason you do not quality, you may be offered a subsidized loan from the government with very good rates.

Although the Federal Grant process is not targeted at Hispanics, or other minorities specifically, as long as you are in a financial situation where paying for college would be difficult or impossible, you are likely to be awarded some funding.

Aside from the financial aid you may receive as a result of your FAFSA application, there are a a vast selection of Hispanic/Latino scholarships that could help pay for your education.

College Scholarships For Hispanics

The other form of “gift aid” for college is scholarships. There are several scholarships that are specifically for Hispanic students. Hispanic heritage students can find scholarships from many sources. Remember, that while being a Hispanic will open the door for you to apply for these scholarships, you are essentially competing against thousands of other people when you send in your application. Your financial need may be sufficient but usually scholarships will look at other factors too, so do your best to excel at your studies to show high grades as well as demonstrating your involvement in the Hispanic community.

The Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF) is the largest organization dedicated to supporting the higher education of Hispanics. Their mission is to increase the Hispanic college graduation rate from 19% to 60% by the year 2025 by means of educational support and scholarship programs. In addition to their own general scholarship program they have a wide array of scholarships available for Hispanics that are made available through they partnerships with other private organizations such as Walmart and Coca-Cola. The way it works is simple; you fill out the online application on their site and their system will automatically tell you for which programs you are eligible for. Award amounts generally range from $1,000 to $5,000.

The Gates Millennium Scholars Program (GMS) was established by the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation to specifically aid America’s different minority groups that are under-represented in colleges, including Hispanic students. The program enables awarded students to purpsue an undergraduate college education in any field or even graduate studies for those that pursue studies in mathematics, science, engineering, education, public health or library science. When applying you must demonstrate financial need, a 3.3/4.0 GPA, as well as leadership qualities. Visit this page to learn more.

The Congregational Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI) offers support to students who are critical need of financial aid to attend college. They scholarship program is geared towards cultivating individuals that have strong leadership qualities and are consistently involved in community service activities. Strong writing skills are also highly valued for this scholarship. The scholarships range from $2,500 for an undergraduate degree to $5,000 for graduate-level studies. Visit their site to learn more or apply.

The Hispanic College Fund (HCF), in association with a number of other institutions, provides scholarships for Hispanic students. There are several scholarship available through HCF including their general College and Career Institute Scholarships, The Marriott Scholars Program Scholarships for Hispanics, The Ford Blue Oval Nation-wide Scholarships and the Google Scholarship Program. Awards are big, up to $10,000. A visit to their scholarships page will give you more details for each individual one as well as access to the online application form.

Hispanic studentsFirst in My Family Scholarship Program is provided by the Sallie Mae Fund through the Hispanic College Fund. It aims to provide funding to Hispanic students who are the first members of their family to attend college. The program awards up to $5,000 in scholarships. If your siblings, parents, and grandparents have never attended college, this scholarship can likely help you out. Visit the First in My Family’s scholarship page to learn more and apply.

National Association of Hispanic Nurses (NAHN) If you are of Hispanic heritage and planning on attending college to study nursing, then you should consider joining the association. The association awards scholarships to help its members attend college. For further information visit their website.

There are several ways for Hispanic students to find funding for college. Contact your school’s financial aid office to discuss these options or if there are any other sources of funding available to you. Above all, make sure to persevere in your mission to attend college. ¡Suerte!