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Financial Aid for Minority Students

June 3, 2020 | Staff Writers

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Minorities remain underrepresented in many professions, and that includes nursing. According to Minority Nurse Magazine, about 10% of registered nurses are African-American, 8.3% are Asian, 4.8% are Hispanic or Latino, and 0.4% are American Indian or Alaska Native. Compared to the demographic makeup of the U.S., all of these minority groups, except Asians, remain underrepresented in the nursing industry. Hispanic or Latino people make up nearly 18% of the U.S. population, yet the percentage in nursing is under 5%.

Several nonprofit and professional organizations encourage young minorities to enter the nursing industry; in many cases, these groups offer nursing scholarships to spur underrepresented populations to go into the industry. Students can find minority nurse scholarship programs all over the country, but they must be willing to dig in deep and take on some research to find them. Sometimes organizations offer these scholarships for minority nursing students whenever they can raise enough funding, which may be every few years. Students may also have to take an extra step and call local organizations to learn what undergraduate and graduate nursing scholarships for minorities are available. This article will offer a sampling of available scholarships for minorities, the types of funding available, scholarship tips, and some additional resources for nursing students.

Scholarships for African-American Nursing Students

Dr. Lauranne Sams Scholarship

  • Amount: $5,000
  • Deadline: April 15

Applicants must be members of the National Black Nurses Association (NBNA) and be enrolled in a nursing program with at least one year of school remaining. They should demonstrate academic excellence, dedication to community service, and show financial need. This scholarship was named for Dr. Lauranne Sams, the founder of the NBNA. It requires that students are able to demonstrate the leadership skills and commitment to community service exemplified by Dr. Sams. Students can apply here.

Thomara Latimer Cancer Foundation Scholarship

  • Amount: Varies
  • Deadline: Varies (check website for updates)

Applicants must be Michigan residents between the ages of 17 and 30. They should be enrolled or have been accepted at an accredited college or university and hold a minimum 3.0 GPA. This scholarship is available to students pursuing a degree in any healthcare-related field. Students can apply for the scholarship here; the page updates at the beginning of the academic year. Students can apply for the scholarship here; the page updates at the beginning of the academic year.

Beta MU Chapter of Lambda Pi Alpha Sorority Nursing Scholarships

  • Amount: Varies
  • Deadline: April 30

Students should be enrolled in a nursing program in the state of Illinois with a 3.0 GPA and 20 hours of community service over the past year. A personal statement and three letters of recommendation are required, and applicants will undergo an interview with a scholarship committee. The scholarship is available at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

NBNA Board of Directors Scholarship

  • Amount: $2,000
  • Deadline: April 15

Applicants must be members of the NBNA, have at least one full year of school remaining, and be pursuing a bachelor’s or an advanced degree in nursing. Students can find the application here.

Dr. Hilda Richards Scholarship

  • Amount: $3,000
  • Deadline: April 15

Applicants must be members of the NBNA and be transitioning from an associate degree to a BSN degree. Students can find the application here.

Professional Organizations for African-American Students

  • National Black Nurses Association: Dedicated to supporting the careers of African-American nurses, the NBNA provides career resources, scholarships for minority nursing students, and a mentorship program to its members. The NBNA also hosts conferences and webinars so that members may continue their education as professionals, and they support advocacy efforts for issues specifically pertaining to black nurses.
  • Black Nurses Rock: The leaders of Black Nurses Rock created the organization in 2014 in order to champion African-American nurses working in underprivileged communities. The association includes local chapters all over the U.S., allowing black nurses to connect with one another. It also gives members access to a mentorship program and opportunities for continuing education.
  • National Urban League: The National Urban League is a historic organization advocating for civil rights and economic empowerment for African-Americans. As such, the National Urban League’s job network provides resources for black professionals in every industry, including nurses.

Scholarships for Hispanic and Latino Nursing Students

National Hispanic Health Professional Student Scholarship

  • Amount: Varies
  • Deadline: October 1

Students should have at least a 3.0 GPA, documented leadership experience, and be enrolled in a graduate program within the health field. Students must also submit one letter of recommendation and a personal statement. Applicants don’t have to be Hispanic, but they should show interest and dedication to the Hispanic community and in National Hispanic Health Foundation (NHHF) Scholars Alumni activities. Students can fill out the application online here.

NAHN UnitedHealth Foundation Scholarship

  • Amount: $5,000 for 3 years
  • Deadline: April 15

Applicants must be members of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses (NAHN) and enrolled in a nursing program. This scholarship is funded by the United Health Foundation and is especially for students who aim to work in underserved communities after graduation. Demonstration of financial need, academic standing, and supporting documentation will also factor into the student’s application.

NAHN Hector Gonzalez Past Presidents Scholarship

  • Amount: $4,000 (Varies year-to-year)
  • Deadline: April 15

Applicants must be members of the NAHN and enrolled in a nursing program. Hector Hugo Gonzalez, a past president of NAHN, funds this scholarship. Male applicants are especially urged to apply. Demonstration of financial need, academic standing, and supporting documentation will also factor into the student’s application.

NAHN Nurse Tim Scholarship

  • Amount: $1,000
  • Deadline: April 15

Applicants must be members of the NAHN, graduates working toward a nursing degree, and should be planning on teaching when they graduate. This scholarship is provided by Demonstration of financial need, academic standing, and supporting documentation will also factor into the student’s application.

Hispanic Scholarship Fund

  • Amount: $500 – $5,000
  • Deadline: April 2

Applicants should have Hispanic heritage. High school seniors with a 3.0 GPA or higher, undergrads, community college students transferring to a four-year college, and graduate students with a 2.5 GPA or higher are eligible to apply. Students should also file a FAFSA or state-based aid application. All majors and fields of study are eligible to apply.

SALEF’s “Fulfilling Our Dreams Scholarship”

  • Amount: Varies
  • Deadline: June 15

This scholarship is offered by the Salvadoran American Leadership and Educational Fund. Students must be of Latino or Central American descent, have at least a 2.5 GPA, demonstrate financial need, and show a history of community involvement. The scholarship is open to all students, regardless of immigration status. However, students must live in the Los Angeles area in order to apply.

Professional Organizations for Hispanic and Latino Students

  • National Association of Hispanic Nurses: The National Association of Hispanic Nurses includes 46 chapters across the U.S. and offers its members professional development and advocacy opportunities. The organization also provides a wealth of resources for nursing students, such as scholarships, a mentorship program, and access to a peer-reviewed journal called Hispanic Health Care International.
  • Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement: The Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement (HACE) works to augment the careers of Hispanic professionals in all industries, including nursing. HACE’s University Leadership Network connects college students to potential employers through college chapters around the U.S. and through events such as Career Shadow Day and Recruitment Night. HACE also hosts an annual gala in Chicago where students can network with other professionals.
  • Hispanic/Latino Professionals Association: Another organization for Hispanic and Latino professionals not specific to any industry, the Hispanic/Latino Professionals Association (HLPA) aims to connect students and workers with potential employers. The organization not only provides job listings, but also alerts members to local networking and career events for job seekers.

Scholarships for Native American Nursing Students

Indian Health Service Health Professions Scholarship

  • Amount: Varies
  • Deadline: Typically around April

Applicants must have at least a 2.0 GPA; be enrolled in a healthcare-related major or plan to enroll in a healthcare-related major; intend to work with Native American communities upon graduation; and be a member of a federally recognized American Indian Tribe or Alaska Native village. Students who are awarded this scholarship must sign a contract stating they are committing to two years minimum of service at an Indian health facility. Interested students can find the online application here. IHS also offers scholarships for preparatory and pre-grad students.

American Indian Nurse Scholarship Program

  • Amount: $1,500 per semester
  • Deadline: June 1 for the fall; December 1 for the spring

Applicants must be at least 1/4 Native American, enrolled in a tribe, or provide proof of direct tribal ancestry. They should be enrolled in a nursing program, maintain an above-average GPA, and be recommended by a counselor or a teacher. Applicants can must print and fill out the application, which can be found here, and then mail it to the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America (NSCDA). Note that recipients of the Indian Health Service Scholarship are not eligible for the American Indian Nurse Scholarship.


Association on American Indian Affairs Scholarship

  • Amount: Varies
  • Deadline: July 16 for the fall semester; December 17 for the spring semester

Applicants should be enrolled in a Native American Tribe, submit evidence of Tribal enrollment, be pursuing an associate degree or higher in nursing full-time, and maintain a minimum GPA of 2.5. Although the program gives out scholarships for both the spring and fall semester, each student is only allowed to receive one scholarship per year.

Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) Board of Directors Scholarship

  • Amount: $5,000
  • Deadline: June 15

Applicants should be permanent Alaska residents enrolled in a higher education program with intention to work in the healthcare field upon graduation. They should also submit proof of their Alaska Native or Native American heritage. Detailed application instructions can be found here.

Jean Charley-Call Nursing Scholarship

  • Amount: $1,000
  • Deadline: December 15

Applicants should be enrolled in the Hopi Tribe, studying full-time at an accredited college or university, and have a minimum 2.5 GPA. Students should also fill out a FAFSA and/or state, federal, or institutional aid. This scholarship is for Native Americans who are part of the Hopi Tribe, and the online application can be filled out here.

Professional Organizations for Native American Students

  • The National Alaska Native American Indian Nurses Association: The National Alaska Native American Indian Nurses Association (NANAINA) grants professional development opportunities for nurses who are either Native American or Alaska Natives. The organization hosts a conference each year where members can network with others in their profession and learn best practices from one another.
  • Native American Nurses Association of Arizona: Despite being called the Native American Nurses Association of Arizona (NANA), all Native Americans working in the nursing field may join this organization — no matter what state they call home. Members of the organization aim to mentor and guide their less experienced colleagues, and scholarships are sometimes provided to students as well.
  • First Nations Development Institute: Although they don’t specifically cater to nurses or people working in the healthcare field, First Nations Development Institute welcomes professionals in any industry. They aim to help Native Americans achieve financial empowerment and offer grants to students pursuing degrees in higher education.

Scholarships for Asian and Pacific Islander Nursing Students

Asian American/Pacific Islander Nurses Association Scholarship

  • Amount: $1,000
  • Deadline: June 10

Applicants must be members of the AAPINA, have a minimum 3.5 GPA, and be pursuing a nursing degree as either an undergraduate or graduate. Students must also write a personal essay and submit two letters of recommendation. The award is presented at the annual AAPINA conference in the fall, so the recipient must be able to attend.

Native Hawaiian Health Scholarship

  • Amount: Varies
  • Deadline: April 30

Applicants should be of Hawaiian ancestry and enrolled full-time at an accredited college or university. They must maintain good academic standing and intend to work with Native Hawaiians upon completion of their degree. This scholarship is available to students pursuing various academic disciplines within the realm of healthcare; nursing students applying for this scholarship should be studying to become a nurse, nurse midwife, or nurse practitioner.

Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund (APIASF) General Scholarship Program

  • Amount: Varies; $2,500 one year to $20,000 over multiple years
  • Deadline: January 11

Applicants should be Asian and/or Pacific Islander, enrolled in an undergraduate program, have a GPA of at least 2.7, fill out the FAFSA, and submit one letter of recommendation. This scholarship is for Asian and/or Pacific Islander students studying any academic discipline, including nursing.

APIASF AANAPISI Scholarship Program

  • Amount: Varies; $2,500 on year to $5,000 over multiple years
  • Deadline: November 7

APIASF offers a second scholarship for students who attend partner campuses, a list of which can be found here. Students should also be of Asian and/or Pacific Islander ethnicity, enrolled full-time in an accredited program, and fill out the FAFSA. This scholarship especially scouts out students living below the poverty line who are the first in their families to attend college. Students should also have a strong background in community service and leadership, along with sound academic achievement.

American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) Minority Nurse Faculty Scholars Program

  • Amount: $18,000
  • Deadline: May 31

Applicants must be members of a minority group, enrolled full-time in a clinical nursing master’s program or PhD program, work as a mentor throughout the scholarship, teach in a school of nursing after graduation, and agree to provide six-month progress reports until this teaching commitment has been satisfied. For full instructions on the scholarship, students should click here.

Professional Organizations for Asian and Pacific Islander Students

  • Asian American/Pacific Islander Nurses Association: AAPINA offers funding to its members through scholarships to student members and research grant awards for professionals and students alike. The organization also organizes an annual conference and publishes the Asian Pacific Island Nursing Journal — both good educational resources for nursing students.
  • Philippine Nurses Association of America: PNAA represents 10,000 Filipino-American nurses across the U.S. The group provides continuing education and networking opportunities through annual national conferences and several regional conferences. Members also receive subscriptions to the group’s journal and additional members-only access on the organization’s website.
  • National Association of Asian American Professionals: NAAAP offers membership through several chapters throughout the U.S. and Canada. Although the organization is not strictly for nurses, the association welcomes professionals from every industry. It supplies those members with access to webinars, conventions, leadership academies, and employee resource groups.

Scholarships for Undocumented Nursing Students

Que Llueva Café Scholarship

  • Amount: Varies
  • Deadline: Varies (check website for updated deadline)

Applicants should apply by sharing their personal stories, extracurricular involvement, and academic promise. The Chicano Organizing and Research in Education (CORE) organization offers this scholarship. High school students pursuing any major can apply.

Davis-Putter Scholarship Fund

  • Amount: Up to $10,000
  • Deadline: April 1

Applicants must be activists for social and economic justice and the progressive movement, as well as pursuing education at a college, university, or a trade or technical program. A personal statement, two letters of recommendation, and proof of financial need should be submitted with the application. Applicants need not be U.S. citizens to apply, but they should demonstrate involvement in activism.

Golden Doors Scholarship Fund

  • Amount: Varies
  • Deadline: Varies (check website for updates)

Applicants should be high school seniors or recent high school graduates, and they must maintain at least a 3.0 GPA once they are enrolled in college. Preference is given to students who live in states that require undocumented and DACA students to pay out-of-state tuition.

The Dream.US National Scholarship

  • Amount: Up to $14,500 for an associate degree; Up to $29,000 for a bachelor’s degree; Additional stipend up to $4,000 for books, supplies, transportation
  • Deadline: March 1

Students should be DACA recipients (or eligible for DACA) and be recent graduates from high school or a community college with a minimum GPA of 3.0. They must be planning on enrolling in an associate degree program or a four-year college. Scholarship awards can be used at any of TheDream.US partner colleges. A list can be found here.

Jack Kent Cooke Foundation College Scholarship Program

  • Amount: Up to $40,000
  • Deadline: November 14

Applicants must be high school graduates who earned a GPA of at least 3.5 and standardized test scores in the top 15%. They must also submit essays and two letters of recommendation. Applicants do not have to be U.S. citizens, but they should be able to demonstrate financial need. When determining scholarship recipients, the selection committee examines a student’s academic achievement, unmet financial need, persistence, leadership, and service to others.

Professional Organizations for Undocumented Students

  • United We Dream: Although United We Dream does not strictly serve as a professional association, it does connect undocumented immigrants and DACA recipients with access to higher education. United We Dream provides its members with several resources, including guides for undocumented students who want to find scholarships and tools for finding jobs once they graduate.
  • TheDream.US: Another organization that operates more as an advocacy group than a professional association, TheDream.US works to make college accessible to undocumented students and DACA recipients. The group offers scholarships in association with partner colleges all over the U.S., and it provides resources to those looking for legal guidance on education and employment.
  • National Immigration Law Center: Undocumented students can head to the National Immigration Law Center for legal help not only with documentation status, but with education and employment as well. The center provides resources for students seeking financial help or connections as well as tools for recent graduates who may be looking for employment and would like to be well-versed in their rights.

Types of Funding Available for Nursing Students


Scholarships typically operate as merit-based competitions. In other words, students compete for scholarships. Selection committees base their decisions on criteria such as GPA, test scores, recommendation letters, and essays. Students do not need to pay scholarships back after they graduate.

Minority nursing scholarships operate a bit differently. These are generally meant to level the professional playing field by providing funding to underrepresented demographic groups. These scholarship competitions often have more stringent eligibility requirements based on race or ethnicity. African-American nursing scholarships, for instance, may only accept black or biracial applicants. Scholarship programs for American Indians may require applicants to provide proof of Tribal enrollment.


Although some research grants require students to submit proposals, most grants allow for need-based applications. Students from low-income families seeking financial aid should apply to grants, which they do not need to pay back after finishing their degrees.

Minority students may also find grants specifically tailored toward applicants from a certain ethnic or racial background. African-American, Hispanic, Asian, and Pacific Islander students can apply for grants dedicated to students of certain immigrant or cultural heritages. Native Americans may also find a wealth of funding from nonprofit organizations dedicated to furthering the careers of indigenous peoples. Nonethnic grants are available as well, especially for women or students with physical or cognitive disabilities.


Work-study programs allow students the opportunity to help fund their educational studies through employment. Colleges and universities often run these programs, hiring students part-time to work in jobs related to their majors. Alternatively, nonprofit organizations may sponsor work-study jobs off campus too.

Students participating in work-study programs work several hours a week, and their wages go directly toward academic expenses, such as tuition costs or textbooks. Funds earned through these programs do not need to be paid back after graduation.

Federal Student Loans

Students may also consider applying for federal student loans. Sponsored by the federal government, these loans must be paid back after graduation. However, federal loans demand much lower interest rates than any other type of loan.

Students may apply for four types of federal student loans, but the two most common include direct subsidized loans and direct unsubsidized loans. Students who can demonstrate financial need may apply for subsidized loans, and the U.S. Department of Education pays the accrued interest. On the other hand, the unsubsidized student loan program does not require demonstration of financial need. However, students who take out these types of loans must pay back the original borrowed amount along with interest.

Private Loans

Private loans may work as an option for some students, but generally speaking, this option can add up to be the most expensive. That’s because the lenders who give out private loans, such as banks and other financial institutions, demand higher interest rates than the federal government, which means that students pay back more money to the lender over time.

Students who need the extra financial assistance provided by private loans should research fees, interest rates, and their potential earnings after graduation to see if they can keep up with monthly repayments.

Filing the FAFSA

All students searching for minority nursing scholarships and other financial aid should file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). After filling out the application, students learn whether they qualify for federal grants, loans, or work-study programs. Some students may be eligible for federal grants specific to certain races or ethnicities. With undocumented students, circumstances get trickier. Federal student aid does not go to undocumented students, which includes students participating in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. However, students may still be eligible for state- and college-funded financial aid. Since funding opportunities at the state and school levels often require students to turn in information from their FAFSA, undocumented students should still consider filling out the application.

In order to apply for the FAFSA, students should have their Social Security numbers or Alien Registration numbers, federal income tax returns and W-2 information, bank statements, and untaxed income records. Applicants should fill out the FAFSA sometime between October 1 and June 30. While enrolled in school, students must keep up with their academic work in order to continue receiving federal aid.

Scholarship Application Tips

  1. Tell your story: Several scholarship contests require applicants to write an essay or statement of purpose. Students shouldn’t fear getting personal with these essays, particularly when it comes to minority nursing scholarships. Selection committees want to hear about how students have overcome adversity, how they’ve managed living as a minority, and how they’ve handled coming from a disadvantaged background. To make a particularly compelling argument, connect your personal story from your past with your academic and career ambitions for your future.
  2. Stay organized: Students should start researching scholarships early and keep a running list with information on deadlines, requirements, and the amount of funding available for each minority nurse scholarship program. Students may have different ways that work best for them, such as a calendar where they can jot down dates, an excel spreadsheet, or a physical notebook.
  3. Know your eligibility: Minority nursing scholarships tend to have stringent requirements, which comes as no surprise for funding dedicated specifically to African-American, Hispanic, or other minority students. This means that students should be sure of their eligibility for a particular scholarship before they apply. If you are an American Indian, for instance, you may need to prove that you have at least a quarter of indigenous blood, or you may need to show proof of your tribal enrollment. In addition, undocumented students must keep an eye out for scholarships that require proof of U.S. citizenship.
  4. Apply for smaller scholarships: Students may be tempted to dive straight into the scholarships offering five-figure funding, but students should also apply for those offering smaller amounts of money as well. These scholarships often mean fewer applicants apply, and those seemingly smaller figures add up quickly. Look for scholarship opportunities in your local community or from your school to find these sources of funding.
  5. Diversify: Students also might believe that solely applying to scholarships for minority nursing students works as the best path to funding their college education. However, students should also apply to programs based on academic, musical, sports, or other extracurricular merit. Students should get creative with their searches too, for example, some scholarship programs give out money for unusual heights or for those who are left handed. If you diversify the type of scholarships you seek, you’ll find more funding opportunities and hopefully more money.

Additional Scholarship Resources for Nursing Students

  • Free Application for Federal Student Aid: The FAFSA website hosts the application for federal financial aid and answers most questions that students may have about receiving federal aid through grants, loans, or work-study programs. The FAFSA website also works as a resource for students looking for information on immigration status or grants for racial and ethnic minorities.
  • NURSE Corps Scholarship Program: The NURSE Corps Scholarship program does not solely serve as a resource for minorities, but for nursing majors in general. This program covers tuition and fees, and offers students a monthly stipend. Upon graduation, the student must agree to work in an area with a critical shortage of nurses.
  • Fastweb: This website works as a search engine for scholarships. Students can filter their search for specific majors, races, ethnicities, academic programs, and locations. Students who are not U.S. citizens may search for scholarships too. Fastweb members also receive information about potential internships and advice on student loans and career planning.
  • American Nurses Foundation: Sponsored through the American Nurses Association, this foundation provides several scholarships for nursing students across the U.S. The association itself also supplies members with resources including a career center and access to conferences and other networking events.
  • National Immigration Law Center Access to Postsecondary Education Toolkit: This resource serves students who are undocumented or in the DACA program. They offer resources for students to learn their educational rights and track down scholarships that do not require applicants to be U.S. citizens.
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