Many scholarships, grants, and other types of financial aid support underserved communities. Students from minority groups, immigrants, or those who cope with a mental or physical disability are just some examples of communities that have access to certain specialized financial aid.
Until recently, members of the LGBTQ community didn’t enjoy the same treatment, but this is rapidly changing across the country as more opportunities are developed to help finance students who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer to achieve their educational goals.
If you are a part of the LGBTQ community, consider applying for one of the now numerous scholarships, grants, and other financial aid opportunities available. As always, all students, no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity, should still submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) first. All other applications can follow suit.
Finding LGBTQ-Focused Financial Aid
There are a few ways to seek out scholarships, the most reliable of which is to speak with your school’s department of financial aid. They can help you find which scholarships and grants you are eligible for and give you pointers on the application process. You can also work with your department of study directly. For LGBTQ students, you should contact the school’s LGBTQ support group, as they may have other leads on where to look for free financial aid.
Next, reach out to any support groups in your community, both at the municipal and statewide level. These groups are valuable resources for LGBTQ students and may already have a list of possible scholarships for you. Finally, a little bit of careful digging through scholarship databases can point you toward a few other possibilities as well.
Here are a few options to get you started:
Point Foundation LGBTQ Scholarship
Do you have a history of leadership and community involvement combined with strong academic achievement and a demonstrated financial need? If you have been working to advocate for the LGBTQ community, you may be eligible for the Point Foundation LGBTQ Scholarship.
You must identify as an LGBTQ student and be enrolled in a degree program in the U.S. Interestingly, if you apply, you must be available to attend an event (expenses paid) in Los Angeles in April. The application is done online and is accepted between Nov. 1 and Jan. 29. The prestigious scholarship awards $10,000 to a student in need.
Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) Scholarships
The PFLAG scholarships were created for graduating seniors pursuing post-secondary education for the first time. All applicants must be part of the LGBTQ community, and even allies are eligible. Applicants must also have a history of community involvement. Applications are due in early April each year. Scholarships are issued via the local chapters of PFLAG and vary in amount, typically for $2,000 and under, although some are for much larger sums.
League Foundation LGBTQ Scholarship
There is more than one award issued by the League Foundation for LGBTQ students. One application, received between January and April, will automatically enter the student into all relevant scholarships. Students must self-identify as a member of the LGBTQ community, have recently graduated high school, and be enrolled in postsecondary education in either the USA or Canada.
This application also requires the submission of two essays and two letters of recommendation. Particular attention is paid to students who have an outstanding history of advocacy work for LGBTQ causes. Amounts vary depending on award.
Gamma Mu Foundation
Even more specialized than other LGBTQ awards is the Gamma Mu Foundation Scholarship. This scholarship supports LGBTQ students and focuses on rural communities as well as other underserved populations.
Eligible students must be U.S. citizens who have recently completed high school (or earned a GED) within the same calendar year. Most of the awards are only open to gay men under the age of 35. All applications must be completed online, and the awards vary between $1,000 to $2,500. The deadline for application is March 31 every year.
Pride Foundation Scholarships
LGBTQ students and allies in the Northwest (Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington) are welcome to apply for the series of Pride Foundation Scholarships. All students are required to demonstrate leadership within the community (or field of study) and be in need of a broader support system. Special attention is given to those who face additional challenges and are from underserved communities (immigrants, homeless, rural isolation, etc.).
Students must also have a significant financial need to be eligible for these awards. One application automatically enters the student into the running for all awards, but the form is quickly completed online. The Pride Foundation opens the awards in October, and the deadline is in mid-January. Scholarship amounts vary, with the average recipient receiving roughly $4,100. The highest award is for $12,000.
Supportive nonprofits across the country have gathered resources to offer a leg up to students in the LGBTQ community to help level the playing field and open up resources to those who may not normally see them.
If you identify with the community or are a community ally, explore the numerous new financial aid options out there. Don’t be afraid to ask at your local school, inquire at state-level nonprofits, and get in touch with other students in your community.