Higher education is more than just lecture halls and textbooks. Going to college is a unique chance for students to step away from the world from which they came – both geographically and socially – and experience new things and new people. However, the cost of college can be prohibitively expensive, and for many people, scholarships or grants may be necessary to fund the cost of education. Fortunately, there are a number of scholarships for black men that can ease the burden of the cost of tuition and fees for this population.

Do Minorities Get Scholarships?

Scholarships are money designated to help defray the cost of an expensive education. While most college scholarships are intended for use in paying tuition and room and board fees, some are more specifically tailored to be used for particular course credit, for supplies or for electronics to support a student's program of study.

There are scholarships for almost every designation in society. Grants and scholarships are available based on gender, religion, race, ethnicity, family history, profession, type of study being pursued, athletic achievement, academic merit and additional special talents. In the United States, ethnic and racial minorities are understood to be at a disadvantage in many ways, including in terms of access to quality education. Scholarships that offer financial assistance to minorities attempt to increase minority access to quality education and increase representation for these groups in college and university settings.

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Students from ethnic minorities are also minorities in most college and university settings. As much as students benefit from the education they can gain at an institute of higher learning, the classroom and the university community can also benefit from increased diversity, new perspectives and the participation of students from different backgrounds and life experiences. For this reason, scholarships for minority students are reciprocally beneficial for everyone involved.

Academic Scholarships for African-American Males

There are a number of academic scholarships available to African-American men. The ACS Scholars program is a renewable scholarship that provides around $5,000 of aid to minority students who are hoping to pursue studies in chemistry-related sciences.

The African American Teaching Fellows scholarship program offers $15,000 to train, develop and support African-American students currently enrolled in an accredited teacher-training program who are planning to serve in schools in Charlottesville, Virginia. The Blacks at Microsoft scholarship is a $20,000 grant for high school students of African descent who plan to study computer science, engineering or information systems. The Catherine Lealtad scholarship is awarded by Macalester College and is open to any applicant of African-American descent with a strong high school transcript.

The EPP Undergraduate scholarship program is targeted toward African-American students who have completed their sophomore year of college and are pursuing a course of study related to atmospheric, oceanic or environmental issues. The Herman J. Neal scholarship offers financial support to African Americans who are pursuing a CPA designation upon conclusion of their studies in accounting. The Jesse Jackson-Toyota scholarships annually award $25,000 to African-American students with high GPAs who are pursuing studies in STEM or business fields.

What Is a Pell Grant and Who Is Eligible for One?

A Pell Grant is a grant that is federally funded. Pell Grants are the largest source of federal funding for undergraduate students, and unlike loans, they do not need to be repaid. Pell Grants are generally awarded in amounts up to approximately $6,000 and are need based. To be eligible for a Pell Grant, you must qualify for federal student assistance. This is determined by your responses to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

Beyond the eligibility determined by the FAFSA, you must demonstrate financial need, be a U.S. citizen or an eligible noncitizen and be enrolled in a degree program at an accredited college. Students eligible for Pell Grants must be enrolled part time or full time and should note that full-time students generally receive more funding. Students enrolled in postbaccalaureate teacher certification programs are also often eligible.

Application for receipt of a Pell Grant is as simple as filling out the FAFSA form. The FAFSA is then evaluated by the Department of Education, who will determine your eligibility for the grant. As aid is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, it's a wise idea to fill out the FAFSA application as soon as it becomes available for the current year.

What Grants Exist Besides Pell Grants?

While a Pell Grant is probably the best-known grant for school scholarships and funding, there are a number of other grants and scholarships for which African-American male students may be eligible. Doing thorough research is an excellent place to start, and this research can usually begin with a conversation with your school's guidance counselor or college liaison.

In an attempt to bring more young people and minorities into the world of STEM, the United States government has developed the Minority Science and Engineering Improvement program, which provides funding for grants to black men and other minority students who are attending school to focus on science, technology, engineering or math disciplines. By filling out the FAFSA, African-American men can make themselves eligible for consideration for this grant.

The Jackie Robinson Foundation offers scholarship funding to minority students, including grants for black men who are pursuing a degree at a four-year college. Certain colleges, such as Rice University, Simpson College and Loyola-Maryland, specifically offer scholarship money to students who are either entering the school as freshmen or who have already matriculated at the school.

For Which Grants and Scholarships Do You Qualify?

Navigating the world of grant funding and scholarship applications can be daunting and confusing, particularly if it's the first time you're doing it. The first step is filling out FAFSA paperwork for the current cycle as soon as it becomes available. FAFSA evaluation will help to place you in the running for any student aid for which you are eligible, but it is distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.

Once you have filled out your FAFSA, it is a good idea to check to see if any of the colleges or universities to which you are applying offer scholarships related to your area of study or if there are scholarships that are targeted to African-American men. Once you've exhausted the opportunities available at your school, you can begin to cast a wider net. Search the internet for scholarships for African-American males. Many businesses and corporations offer scholarships to students pursuing careers in their field, so it is a good idea to research those as well.

What Percentage of Scholarships Are for Minorities?

While there are scholarships devoted exclusively to minority students, the facts are that the majority of students who get scholarship money are white. Pell Grants are one of the few cases in which minorities receive the majority of the award, but in most cases, Caucasian students receive the bulk of the nation's financial aid, despite the fact that only 48 percent of Caucasian students qualify as low income, while close to 77 percent of African-American students do.

While there is no way to tell exactly what percentage of scholarships are for minorities, there are a large number of scholarships and grants that are targeted at minorities in the U.S., particularly black and Hispanic students. There are dozens of scholarships for African-American males and females. Some are awarded based on athleticism, academics or artistic achievement, while others are based on personal qualities and service.

Research organizations that serve minorities, like the NAACP, Sisters 4 Sisters, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Center for Urban Renewal and Education. These are excellent organizations for searching for resources such as scholarships, grants and other funding for businesses and for education. Searching for scholarships for black males is easier when you contact large hubs that have that sort of information, as well as smaller organizations of which you may not yet be aware.

What Grants Are Available for Small Businesses?

Small businesses need a lot of support. Generally speaking, a small business has a greater chance of failure than a franchise of an already-existing large business. For these reasons, there are grants in place to help struggling small business owners continue to thrive.

Miller Lite, Huggies and FedEx are just three large corporations that offer grant funding to small businesses. The Small Business Innovative Research Fund offers grants for biomedical and research-focused businesses. The Rural Business Enterprise grants program offers grants for small businesses in rural areas that often need extra support. The Minority Business Development helps to place angel investors with fledgling small businesses run exclusively by minorities.

It's a good idea to web search the names of the large businesses in your field and see if they offer any sort of grant program or financial assistance. Another resource is minority-affiliated community organizations in your area. They are often in contact with donors or large organizations that are hoping to partner to serve and fund smaller organizations. This is a great resource for finding grants for African-American males.

What Are Some Scholarship Application Tips?

Whether you're seeking African-American scholarships for high school seniors or a small business grant, one thing is true across the board: You need to do an excellent job filling out your application. This means getting organized and making sure you have important deadlines and dates marked on your calendar well ahead of time.

Make sure that you have all the necessary materials and supplies that you'll need for your application ahead of time. If you need materials from someone, like transcripts, a letter of recommendation or any other external evaluations, make sure you give them as much notice as possible and collect it early so you can cross it off your list.

Don't fail to fill out an application for a scholarship simply because the award isn't huge. Several small awards may add up to sufficient money to send you to your desired school, and that's worth sacrificing an hour or two for getting your application ready.

What Should I Write in My Scholarship Application Essay?

Your scholarship essay is your opportunity to sing your own praises and to point out and discuss your different accomplishments. While it can be awkward to talk about yourself in a boasting way, it is also necessary. You need to show why you deserve this scholarship.

Keep your essay well organized and only bring up topics, achievements and accomplishments that are relevant to the award at hand. If you're applying for a STEM scholarship, don't use your essay to discuss your history of tennis victories or your expertise with watercolors. The essay you write should advocate for yourself in the appropriate areas. Anything else is irrelevant.

Be sure that you strongly advocate for yourself, communicate that you know exactly what the award is for and discuss how you intend to use the award. Finally, be sure to review, revise, edit and proofread your essay before submitting it. When it comes to the possibility of getting scholarship money, all of the details count.

About the Author

Ashley Friedman is a freelance writer with experience writing about education for a variety of organizations and educational institutions as well as online media sites. She has written for Pearson Education, The University of Miami, The New York City Teaching Fellows, New Visions for Public Schools, and a number of independent secondary schools. She lives in Los Angeles.