How to Find Scholarships for Black Women

Our guide to taking advantage of scholarship opportunities specifically geared towards African American women

Main image courtesy of Brookings Institution.

In the past century, the percentage of women who attended college in the United States has risen from around 5% in 1920 to about 38% in 2021. For black women, this percentage has gone from less than 2% of the country’s population to over 25% in the past couple of years, demonstrating a staggering change in access to higher education for minority populations.

While the percentage of black women who attended college has gone up significantly in the past decades, there are still some major barriers to accessing education for people across the country, most notably the cost of said education.

Paying for college can be an extremely daunting task, but with scholarships aimed specifically towards black women, funding your education might become just a little bit easier. Here’s our guide to finding scholarships as a black woman and scholarship opportunities specifically aimed towards black women.

Mother helping child on comput
Never forget to fill out your FAFSA every single year you are enrolled as a student. This is a great way to obtain the most aid possible and will help later on as you apply for scholarships.

Scholarship Eligibility and the Different Types of Scholarships

Some of the Potential Eligibility Requirements for African American Women’s  Scholarships and Scholarships in General

When starting your scholarship application journey, there are a few pieces of information and documents that you’ll need for your applications. The requirements for each scholarship vary on a case-by-case basis, but here are some that you should have handy when even thinking about starting to apply.

  • Heritage/Race/Ethnicity

In order to qualify for scholarships that are aimed towards supporting black women, you must identify as a black woman. This includes two parts; one, identify as a woman, and two, identify your race as being black or multiracial with black being a significant part of that racial identity. If you are a transgender woman or are non-binary, apply for scholarships aimed at women if you feel comfortable doing so and meet the criteria of the scholarship. Always be sure to read carefully into the eligibility requirements if a scholarship is aimed at a very specific demographic just to be sure of your eligibility.

  • GPA + Standardized Testing Scores

Some scholarships may require that you submit your cumulative or current GPA, which can be found and reported on your transcript. Many scholarships have GPA requirements, with some requesting applicants with 3.0 or 3.5 and above GPAs. In some cases, you may also be asked to send in your standardized testing scores from tests like the ACT, SAT, or other tests based on what type of degree you are pursuing.

  • Financial Need

Your household’s finances and income may play a large role in whether you receive or are even considered for certain scholarships. Many scholarship programs and awards give priority to students who demonstrate need in their selection process. Scholarships may require that you fill out a FAFSA, which you should do in any case, applying to scholarships or not. 

  • College Transcript and Other College Documents

To report some of the information mentioned above or to show scholarship evaluators the types of classes and grades you have received, you might need to submit an official or unofficial transcript. These can typically be found through college’s admissions or scheduling portals, or you can contact your college’s administration office directly.

  • Essays

An essay or two, or more, will be required for the vast majority of scholarships. These essays tend to be fairly short in length and painless, and they typically have prompts that involve discussing challenges you have faced or accomplishments you have had. Many scholarships also require applicants to write about why they want or need that specific scholarship and how it will help them achieve their goals in the future, so keep this in mind while hunting for ones to apply to.

Scholarships Resources for Black Female Students

Places you can start your search to fund your education

It can be alarming to type ‘scholarships’ into a search bar on the internet and be bombarded with sponsored and sketchy scholarship opportunities, but there are many reputable sites out there that have a good chance of helping you find the scholarship you’re looking for. For our full guide on navigating scholarships and some of the better resources out there, check out our guide on scholarships.

To summarize that guide, some great places to start your search for free money are through College Board, Niche, and Fastweb. These sites make it easy to search for exactly the type of scholarship you’re looking for, and they filter out scholarships based on your eligibility and merit. From these websites and more, here are some of the best scholarships specifically aimed towards black female students pursuing higher education:

The ESPN Scholarship:

With two awards offered for this scholarship, recipients are rewarded $3,750 to a graduate and undergraduate student pursuing a degree in sports media. While there are no credential requirements for this scholarship, recipients will be expected to write up two blog posts to be published on the Alliance for Women in Media’s website. Award winners will also be given a complimentary ticket to the organization’s Gracies luncheon.

The Gates Scholarship:

This scholarship is aimed at high-achieving high school seniors, and it includes an award that covers the winners’ full cost of attendance minus what financial aid and the expected family contribution cover. The requirements include identifying as African-American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian & Pacific Islander American, or Hispanic American, an unweighted GPA of 3.3, and Pell Grant eligibility.

The Agnes Jones Jackson Scholarship:

Created in honor of the late NAACP member from the organization’s San Francisco branch, this scholarship was created for African American students pursuing an undergraduate degree. The award totals $2,000 and 25 students are selected as recipients. Stipulations of the scholarship include a minimum GPA of 3.0, membership to the NAACP, and being no older than 25 years of age.

Jackie Robinson Foundation Award:

Created for minority students pursuing higher education, this opportunity provides recipients with awards of up to $30,000 over four years of school. Applicants must possess financial need, demonstrate commitment to community service and leadership skills, as well as a few other specific requirements. The application to become a scholar includes four essay questions, a headshot, a letter of recommendation, and either an SAT or ACT score.

Blacks for Microsoft:

Designed for black students intending to pursue a degree in technology, this scholarship serves to empower generations of African American students to “do and be more.” Students applying to this scholarship must be pursuing a degree in “engineering, computer science, computer information systems, or select business programs (such as finance, business administration, or marketing),” as well as demonstrate financial need and leadership qualities. The application requires two letters of recommendation, a resume, headshot, transcript, and two short essays. 

Dr. Julianne Malveaux Scholarship for African-American Women:

This scholarship is intended for sophomore and junior black women earning their undergraduate degree in economics, journalism or related fields. Applicants must have a GPA higher than 3.0 and compose a 1000-word essay. The scholarship comes with an award of $1,000 that can be applied to recipients’ tuition.

Estelle Martin Cartledge Memorial Scholarship:

This scholarship is intended but not limited to applicants from the greater Pittsburgh area who are African American, attend Morning Star Baptist Church, and are currently enrolled in a four-year degree program. The scholarship was created in honor of Estelle Martin Cartledge, who selflessly served her community in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. One scholarship is awarded in the amount of $1,300, and priority is given to students who have been actively involved in humanitarian projects for over one year. These projects could involve church work, community service projects, tutoring, or anything that contributed to the betterment of the community through unpaid work.

These scholarships are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to scholarships aimed towards minority students, and specifically black women attending college. Be sure to check out our guide specifically aimed towards women pursuing higher education, as well as our other financial aid, scholarship, and student loan advice.

Sometimes scholarships are looking for applicants from even more specific demographics. Some will be aimed towards black female students that are first-generation, and some are for black students with certain academic achievements. Make sure to find specific ones that apply to you for better chances of winning the scholarship.

By applying to these scholarships, you’ll be taking the steps to take control of funding your education. While these are only a few examples of scholarship opportunities that are offered to black women pursuing higher education, there’s a plethora of opportunities waiting to be applied to.

Allaina Wagner
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