Scholarships for Asian-Pacific Islander College Students

Financial Aid & Support for API College Students

Scholarships can be difficult to find, particularly for Asian Pacific Islander students that don’t know where to start looking. Asian Pacific Islander students come from wide-ranging backgrounds and have varying interests, all of which can play a role in determining which scholarships they’re eligible for. Interestingly, many API students are concentrated in a small percentage of schools. By widening the range of institutions, they look at and the scholarships available, students could find an affordable way to earn a college degree. This guide will help show Asian/Pacific Islander students where they should look to receive additional financial aid, as well as support in the event of discrimination.

Academic Trends for API Students

Asian Pacific Islander students have a variety of financial aid opportunities available, but these opportunities could depend on what and where students study. Here are some quick facts about API students, their college choices and financial aid.

Nearly half of all Asian Pacific Islander students study in California, New York and Texas. (Source)As a group, Asian Pacific Islanders study social sciences/humanities more than the national average and are more likely to earn a degree in that field than engineering, computer science and math. (Source)In 2000, two-thirds of API students studied in eight states at only 200 institutions – less than five percent of Title IV schools. (Source)

Scholarships & Grants for Asian/Pacific Islander Students

With the right strategy and approach, finding and securing scholarships becomes much easier. Expert Doug Julian advises students to make sure they meet the requirements for each scholarship. “If you are ineleligble, you’ll lose a lot of time and energy in your application process for a scholarship you might not get.” Explore available scholarships below and see if you are able to apply.


Grants and Fellowships

Most students know that scholarships are an excellent way to reduce the cost of tuition, but there are other ways as well. Along with scholarships, Asian/Pacific Islander students should pay attention to grants.

  • Grants

    Grants are a type of financial aid that anyone can be eligible for. They’re based solely off financial need, and common grants – like the Pell grant – can go toward any college expense. Unlike loans, students don’t have to repay grants.

    What are the different types of grants?

    • Federal Pell Grants. Offered by the United States Department of Education, these grants are earned after students fill out the FAFSA.
    • Government Grants by State. State governments will sometimes provide grant money to students who either are from that state or are studying in that state.
    • Private Grants. Private grants are offered by organizations and groups that want to promote education. There are many different private grants for Asian/Pacific Islander students.

    Late April

    This private grant is offered to Asian/Pacific Islander students who have secured an internship for the upcoming summer. The internship must be with a print or online media.


    To be eligible for this grant, students must have at least one Asian grandparent. Students with Korean ancestry are preferred.

    Early May

    Residents of Minnesota who are also minorities are eligible for this grant. It can be used an any college in the state, and winners must volunteer to tutor younger students.


    Awarded to Wisconsin residents who are college undergraduates, this grant is only available to students from Laos, Cambodia or Vietnam.

  • Fellowships

    Beyond scholarships and grants, Asian/Pacific Islander students can find extra financial support through fellowships. Fellowships are like internships since students will work in a specific field while earning money for school. These usually last a few months and can be an excellent way to gain experience while financing a college education.

    1 Year
    Late January

    The ASA has supported a variety of minority groups in the past, and all students who get this fellowship are pursuing a future career in sociology. This is a research fellowship, and the winner gets to choose their field of study.

    10 Weeks

    News-driven Asian/Pacific Islander students can get this fellowship in the Tri-State area. It pays $14 an hour, 40 hours a week (plus overtime) and includes a $2,000 housing stipend for students who live away from the area.

    3 Years
    Early January

    Designed for current graduate students who are planning on earning a Ph.D., this fellowship is available to any minority who are likely going to become educators. Minorities from any field of research are welcome to apply.

    4-12 Months
    Early November

    Designed for Japanese American students who are pursuing their doctoral degree, this fellowship funds research in Japan. The research can be done in any field related to the humanities or social sciences.

Barriers & Discrimination Asian/Pacific Islanders Face in College

Asian/Pacific Islanders are often assumed to be “taking over” colleges. Because of this, it isn’t uncommon for Asian/Pacific Islander students to face discrimination in college applications, even at esteemed institutions like Harvard. Expert Doug Julian encourages students to “take control of your identity and find the schools that will support you and your needs.” Here are some resources students can use to help ensure they get a treated fairly in college.

On-Campus Support for API Students

  • University Asian/Pacific Islander Initiatives Many college campuses – particularly those in states with higher AAPI populations, like California – have initiatives to help students avoid discrimination. The California State University system has an initiative like this with the goal of promoting equity Asian/Pacific Islander students.
  • Student guides Some colleges will have Asian/Pacific Islander students produce guides for future students. These guides often have excellent resources specific to that university.
  • Asian American Associations These can be found both on and off school campuses. On-campus AAAs will be comprised of other Asian American students, like UC Davis’ community.
  • Counseling centers Universities provide counseling for students, and they can safely bring up any issues of discrimination this way. Aside from online resources like California State University Monterey Bay provides, Asian/Pacific Islander students can go in-person. This resource can potentially lead to solving the discriminatory problem.

Off-Campus Support for API Students

Explore Additional Financial Aid & Scholarship Opportunities

While Asian/Pacific Islander students have plenty of scholarship opportunities, it doesn’t hurt to see what other financial aid options are out there. “Go for quantity,” expert Doug Julian advises, “Many scholarships are getting cut in size, so students should apply for as many scholarships as possible.” Here are some other popular ways to save money on college.

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Whether you’re looking to earn your online degree or you’re a parent looking for answers, you can find all of your questions covered here. Explore these resources to help you make informed decisions and prepare for whatever is thrown your way.

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