Financial Aid for Hispanic Students to Attend School

Scholarships for Latino, First Generation, Migrant & Undocumented Students

Although Hispanic and Latino students are expected to comprise nearly half of all K-12 learners by the year 2040, this group still lags disproportionately behind other races and ethnicities when it comes to higher education, according to Pew Research. In a study of college completion by race and ethnicity, 15 percent of Hispanics aged 25 to 29 held a bachelor’s degree, with black (22 percent), white (41 percent) and Asian (63 percent) all taking higher spots in terms of attainment. In addition to offering wise words from an expert in Hispanic educational access, this guide exists to empower Hispanic students with information about what it takes to attend college, including details about scholarships, grants, and other funding opportunities; information on undocumented student hurdles; resources for migrant students and their families; and details on how to navigate college as a first generation student.

  • General

    Dr. Juan Andrade Jr. Scholarship for Young Hispanic Leaders

    • Sponsoring Organization: U.S. Hispanic Leadership Institute

    • Amount:Up to $1,000

    • Application Deadline: Varies

    Students with at least one parent of Hispanic ancestry that are enrolled full-time at an accredited institution are qualified to receive this award.

    HEEF Scholarships

    • Sponsoring Organization: Hispanic Education Endowment Fund

    • Amount:Up to $7,000

    • Application Deadline: January 17

    HEEF provides a range of scholarships to U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and Dream Act/AB540 learners of Hispanic descent living in Orange County.

    Hispanic Scholarship Fund

    • Sponsoring Organization: HSF

    • Amount:Up to $5,000

    • Application Deadline: March 30

    Open to high school seniors, undergraduate, and graduate students who are enrolled at an accredited institution and meet certain GPA requirements.

    HSI Scholarship

    • Sponsoring Organization: Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities

    • Amount:$1,000

    • Application Deadline: April 14

    Given to Hispanic students enrolled at a two or four-year member organization who maintain a minimum 2.5 GPA.

    LAEF Scholarship

    • Sponsoring Organization: Latin American Educational Foundation

    • Amount:Up to $3,000

    • Application Deadline: February

    Hispanic students residing in Colorado with a minimum GPA of 3.0 qualify for this scholarship, regardless of degree area.

  • Education Teaching

    Minority Educator Recruitment and Retention Scholarship

    • Sponsoring Organization: Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority

    • Amount:$5,000

    • Application Deadline: Varies

    Kentucky residents who are of Hispanic descent and enrolled in an education degree program may apply, provided they are prepared to teach one semester in a Kentucky school for every semester they received the scholarship.

    Minority Teacher Education Scholarship

    • Sponsoring Organization: Florida Fund for Minority Teachers, Inc.

    • Amount:$4,000

    • Application Deadline: July 1 / November 1

    Open to Florida residents of Hispanic or Latino/a heritage enrolled in a teacher education program who have completed at least 60 credit hours.

    Minority Teachers of Illinois Scholarship

    • Sponsoring Organization: Illinois Student Assistance Commission

    • Amount:$5,000

    • Application Deadline: March 1

    Available to U.S. citizens or eligible non-citizens who reside in Illinois and are enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate education program.

    Minority Teaching Scholarship

    • Sponsoring Organization: Missouri Department of Higher Education

    • Amount:$3,000

    • Application Deadline: June 1

    Missouri residents of Hispanic descent that rank in the top 25 percent of their graduating class may receive this award, provided they are enrolled in a teacher education program.

    William A Crawford Minority Teacher Scholarship

    • Sponsoring Organization: Indiana Commission for Higher Education

    • Amount:$3,000

    • Application Deadline: September

    Indiana residents already admitted or enrolled at an Indiana college or university who are pursuing an education degree may apply.

  • Business Tech

    AICPA Scholarship for Minority Accounting Students

    • Sponsoring Organization: American Institute of CPAs

    • Amount:Up to $5,000

    • Application Deadline: April 1

    Open to minority students, including Hispanic and Latino/a learners, who are studying accounting at the undergraduate or graduate level.

    Diversity Scholarship

    • Sponsoring Organization: American Bus Association

    • Amount:$5,000

    • Application Deadline: April 6

    Hispanic learners who aspire to managerial roles within transportation, travel, or tourism are eligible for this award, which requires a 500-word essay.

    ESA Foundation Scholarship

    • Sponsoring Organization: Entertainment Software Association Foundation

    • Amount:$3,000

    • Application Deadline: April 27

    Open to Hispanic students pursuing undergraduate degrees in areas of computer science and video game arts who maintain a certain GPA.

    Ford Motor’s Future Leaders Scholarship

    • Sponsoring Organization: ¡Adelante! Fund

    • Amount:$1,500

    • Application Deadline: Summer

    Available to Hispanic learners who have completed at least 30 hours and attended a high school in the San Antonio area. Students may study computer science, computer information systems, science, engineering, or technology.

    Minority Scholarship Program

    • Sponsoring Organization: The Surety Foundation

    • Amount:$5,000

    • Application Deadline: November 15

    Hispanic students working toward a degree in areas of accounting, business, finance, insurance, or risk management may apply for this scholarship.

  • Medical Sciences

    ACS Scholars Program

    • Sponsoring Organization: American Chemistry Society

    • Amount:Up to $5,000

    • Application Deadline: March 1

    Awarded to Hispanic high school or college students pursuing a degree in chemical sciences or chemical technology.

    AMS Minority Scholarships

    • Sponsoring Organization: American Meteorological Society

    • Amount:$6,000

    • Application Deadline: February 3

    Students of Hispanic heritage beginning their freshman year in a degree program related to atmospheric, oceanic, or hydrologic sciences are qualified for this award.

    Education Fund Scholarship

    • Sponsoring Organization: Esperanza Fund

    • Amount:Up to $20,000

    • Application Deadline: April 1

    Hispanic students living in Washington D.C., Maryland, or Virginia who demonstrate hard work, leadership, and academic achievement can apply for this award.

    HDA Scholarship Program

    • Sponsoring Organization: Hispanic Dental Association

    • Amount:Up to $10,000

    • Application Deadline: September 15

    HDA offers a range of scholarships to future Hispanic dentists in various stages of their educations.

    NAHN Nursing Scholarship

    • Sponsoring Organization: National Association of Hispanic Nurses

    • Amount:Up to $5,000

    • Application Deadline: Varies

    Awarded to future nursing professionals of Hispanic heritage currently accepted to or enrolled in an accredited nursing program.

  • STEM Majors

    Ann Seki Memorial Scholarship

    • Sponsoring Organization: Chevron

    • Amount:Varies

    • Application Deadline: April 30

    Available to undergraduate students who are studying topics related to engineering, including civil, chemical, electrical, facilities, mechanical, and petroleum.

    HENAAC Scholars Program

    • Sponsoring Organization: HENNAC

    • Amount:$10,000

    • Application Deadline: April 30

    Awarded to Hispanic learners pursuing a STEM degree who can demonstrate leadership or service within their community.

    Hispanic Engineer Scholarship

    • Sponsoring Organization: Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers

    • Amount:Up to $5,000

    • Application Deadline: July 31

    SHPE offers 10 different scholarships to Hispanic and Latino/a students studying STEM disciplines at a variety of academic levels.

    National Scholarship Fund

    • Sponsoring Organization: League of United Latin American Citizens

    • Amount:Up to $5,000

    • Application Deadline: Varies

    In cooperation with General Electric, LULAC awards scholarships to two Hispanic students studying business or engineering.

    STEM Scholarship

    • Sponsoring Organization: Monsanto

    • Amount:Up to $50,000

    • Application Deadline: May 1

    Available to Hispanic students pursuing a PhD in areas of agriculture or another STEM-related topic; must have at least a 3.0 GPA.

  • Leadership Community Organization

    Association of Latin Professionals for America

    • Sponsoring Organization: Empowering Latino Leaders Scholarship

    • Amount:Varies

    • Application Deadline: May 15

    Awarded to Hispanic and Latino/a students working towards a bachelor’s or master’s degree that aspire to leadership roles.

    CLF Scholarship

    • Sponsoring Organization: Chicana / Latina Foundation

    • Amount:$1,500

    • Application Deadline: March 31

    Female students of Chicana/Latina heritage who have lived in northern California for at least two years and plan to attend a school in the same area are welcome to apply.

    Gates Millennium Scholars Program

    • Sponsoring Organization: Gates Millennium Scholars

    • Amount:Up to $20,000

    • Application Deadline: January

    Awarded to Hispanic learners who demonstrate academic excellence, service learning, and leadership potential and are studying at the undergraduate level.

    LULF Scholarship

    • Sponsoring Organization: La Unidad Latina Foundation

    • Amount:Varies

    • Application Deadline: October 15

    Open to undergraduate and graduate students pursuing a range of topics on a full-time basis, provided they maintain at least a 2.8 GPA.

    Philip Arreola Scholarship

    • Sponsoring Organization: Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

    • Amount:Up to $10,000

    • Application Deadline: May 13

    Given to a Hispanic Wisconsin resident who will be starting their first year of undergraduate study and can demonstrate financial need.


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Schools & Programs Serving Hispanic Students

Hispanic-Serving Institutions

As designated by the U.S. Department of Education, the Hispanic-Serving Institutions Program was developed to provide grant funding to institutions serving significant populations of Hispanic students at the college level. These grants are intended to support colleges and universities as they expand educational programs and help institutions better attain – and retain – students from this population. Also known as the Title V program, the Department of Education primarily looks to serve first-generation Hispanic learners who qualify as low income.

In order for a school to qualify for this type of federal funding, the institution must:

  • Be accredited by a body recognized by the Department of Education
  • Operate as a non-profit institution
  • At minimum, provide two-year programs that lead to a degree
  • Demonstrate it has a high number of students qualifying as low income
  • Have a student body where full-time Hispanic learners comprise at least 25 percent of the population

According to data released about the most recent funding cycle, the HSI program provided more than $100 million to U.S. institutions, meaning students who find a school that meets designation criteria will often see numerous programs devoted specifically to their needs.

College Board National Hispanic Recognition Program

Created in recent years to highlight the academic achievements of today’s Hispanic high school students, College Board’s National Hispanic Recognition Program invites learners of at least one-quarter Hispanic or Latino descent to take part. In order to qualify, learners must take the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT)/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (NMSQT) in October of their junior year, meet the minimum required index score, and hold at least a 3.5 GPA by the mid-point of junior year.

College Board recognizes approximately 5,000 of the nearly quarter-million qualifying students each year by sending an official certificate and notifying the student’s high school. While no immediate funding is available via this program, learners can use the recognition on future scholarship applications to stand out from the competition.

HACU Southwest Lanzate

Finding the perfect school can take lots of searching, especially if a student decides they want to attend a Hispanic Serving Institution with other services and resources to better enhance their learning experience. In many cases, attending the right school may also mean living hundreds of miles away from home – an exciting prospect, but it also requires more funding. In answer to this dilemma, the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities partnered with Southwest Airlines to provide the “Giving Flight to Your Success/Dándole Alas a Tu Éxito™” ¡Lánzate! Travel Award Program.

Now in its twelfth year, the program provides one to four roundtrip e-passes to students who are enrolled at an institution that’s at least 200 miles from their permanent residence. Once awarded, passes can be used for travel anywhere in the United States, save for Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico.

Hispanic Association of Colleges & Universities

Formed more than two decades ago in 1986, the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities represents nearly 500 colleges and universities committed to serving the higher education interests of Hispanic students in the United States. Although Hispanic Serving Institution is a designation provided by the government, HACU is the only national, private education group representing these types of colleges and universities.

After working with Congress to appropriate the first available grants to Hispanic Serving Institutions, HACU continues furthering its mission of both working with the government and educational institutions while also serving the needs of students. To that end, the association provides scholarships and grants for learners alongside a range of conferences and events aimed at educating members about opportunities for Hispanic students.

Scholarships & Resources for Undocumented Students

What defines an undocumented student?

As laid out by the federal government, an undocumented student is defined as a foreign national who:

  • Came into the country without passing through an inspection checkpoint or entered with fraudulent paperwork
  • Initially entered legally but has since violated the terms of immigration status and overstayed their allotted time in the U.S. without authorization

Is there a federal law barring undocumented students from attending college?

In a word, no. While different colleges or universities can have their own policies, there is no federal or state law disallowing students from attending public or private institutions. Students need not fear that they will be at risk for deportation by talking to a college or university administrator about their options, but they do need to find a school that provides a supportive environment. While all public schools in states allowing in-state tuition for undocumented students will be welcoming, those in states without these mandates may require proof of citizenship or legal residence in order to admit a new student.

What is DACA?

Created in 2012 by then-President Barack Obama, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals is a program allowing individuals who were brought to the United States as children the opportunity to defer any action on their immigration status for two years, with the option to renew. In order to qualify for this legal status, an individual must:

  • Be under 31 years of age as of June 15, 2012
  • Have arrived in the U.S. before their 16th birthday
  • Have continually lived in the U.S. since June 15, 2007 until present day
  • Not have had a lawful status on June 15, 2012
  • Be currently enrolled in school; have graduated/received a GED from high school; or be an honorably discharged veteran of the armed forces
  • Have no felony convictions, significant misdemeanors, more than three misdemeanors, and post no threat to national security

What is AB540?

First passed in California in 2001, AB540 allows students to receive financial aid from the CAL Grant via the State of California and The Dream Act Application. According to our expert Chad Bantner, “AB540 allows nonresident students who meet certain qualifications to pay in-state tuition.” He continued, “These may include undocumented students, students who are U.S. citizens but not California residents, and dependent students whose parents aren’t California residents.”

As the law currently stands, students are eligible if:

  • They have attended a public or private high school in the state for at least three years, or some combination of elementary, middle, and/or high school for three or more years
  • They graduated from a high school in the state and met equivalency standards to receive a GED or passed the high school proficiency exam
  • They file an affidavit with their chosen college or university confirming that an application to legalize their immigration status has been submitted, or will be submitted as soon as they are able

Financial Matters

The federal government disburses millions of dollars in financial aid each year through scholarships, grants, work-study programs and loans. Unfortunately for the undocumented learner, filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid requires applicants to have a social security number – something no undocumented student is able to obtain. Although some states are less stringent on this rule when it comes to funding, the fact is that most learners in this population must rely on scholarships and grants from private foundations and nonprofit organizations. But just because funding isn’t available via the federal government doesn’t mean that all hope is lost. Tuition benefits for immigrants currently exist in in 20 states, 16 of which enacted laws via their state legislatures and four of which have state university systems committed to serving all students, regardless of resident status. In the case of these states, undocumented students are able to receive in-state tuition for the duration of their time in higher education, provided they meet the state’s requirements, such as having attended a high school in the state for a certain amount of time. Students looking to learn more about the rules in each state can review a comprehensive guide provided by the National Conference of State Legislatures.

According to the latest information provided by the National Conference of State Legislatures, states currently allowing for in-state tuition include:

CaliforniaColoradoConnecticutFloridaIllinois
Hawaii*KansasMarylandMichigan*Minnesota
NebraskaNew MexicoNew YorkOklahoma*Oregon
Rhode Island*TennesseeTexasUtahWashington

*Denotes a state where funding is by state university system rather than legislative action.

If an undocumented student’s home state participates in a tuition benefit program, they should visit their state’s Department of Education website to learn more about options available to them. In the case of Illinois, for example, the Illinois Association for College Admission Counseling provides a whole section on financial aid and scholarships for undocumented learners.

Just because undocumented students can’t count on funds provided by filling out the FAFSA, that doesn’t mean support is not available to help them pay for college and avoid massive student debt.

Achievements Scholarship for Refugees and Immigrants

Sponsoring Organization: Triangle Community Foundation
Amount:Up to $16,000
Application Deadline: March 31
Awarded to Wake County, North Carolina residents who are first generation citizens, refugees, or immigrants and are planning to attend a college or university in North Carolina on a full-time basis.

Dream Fund Scholarship

Sponsoring Organization: Illinois Dream Fund
Amount:Varies
Application Deadline: January 17
Applicants who qualify under the Illinois Dream Act are allowed to apply for this scholarship, which is open to undocumented students who plan to study in Illinois or out of state.

Golden Door Scholarship

Sponsoring Organization: Golden Door Scholars
Amount:Varies
Application Deadline: Varies
Provided to students who have DACA or DPS, with preference given to students in states where colleges charge out-of-state tuition for undocumented learners.

National Scholarship

Sponsoring Organization: The DREAM
Amount:Up to $25,000
Application Deadline: March 8
Awarded to high school students or others not currently enrolled in college but who hope to attend. Must be eligible for in-state tuition at chosen college.

Opportunity Scholarship for Locked-Out Dreamers

Sponsoring Organization: The Dream
Amount:Up to $80,000
Application Deadline: February 19, 2017
Available to students who live in “locked-out” states that don’t allow undocumented students to take advantage of in-state tuition rates.

Scholarships & Resources for Migrant Students

Students are considered to be migrants when their parents work in agricultural and fishing industries that force them to move frequently to find work where crops are currently being harvested. Data from the U.S. Department of Education estimates nearly half a million preschool through 12th grade migrant children currently live in America, with the most on the West Coast and in Texas and Florida. While Hispanic children aren’t the only ethnicity comprising migrant students, an estimate cited by the Migrant Education Program found nearly 90 percent are of Latino origin.

Aside from all the challenges that come with learning in the U.S. school system, including English as a Foreign Language, migrant children must also contend with moving frequently, living in rural areas and being uprooted from teachers who know their needs. Many migrant children may also miss class during the school year in order to work alongside their parents in the fields to provide for family needs.

Although children of migrant workers currently have one of the highest dropout rates in the nation, it doesn’t have to remain the status quo. In an effort to address the inequality, numerous scholarships, resources, and services are now available to exclusively serve this population.

Scholarships for Students in Migrant Families

College Assistance Migrant Program

Sponsoring Organization: U.S. Department of Education
This award, made to non-profit colleges and universities or nonprofit organizations, exists to help students who are migrants during their first year of college. While not available directly to students, check with prospective schools to see if this type of grant is available. Michigan State University is one example.

Farm Worker Scholarship

Sponsoring Organization: Sea Mar Community Health Centers
Amount:Varies
Application Deadline: April 15
Awarded to student farm-workers or children of farm workers who will be studying full-time at an accredited college or university.

Migrant Scholarship

Sponsoring Organization: Student Action with Farmworkers
Amount:Up to $1,500
Application Deadline: November 15 / February 19
Available to an undergraduate learner from a farm-working family who is attending North Carolina State University.

Migrant Scholarships

Sponsoring Organization: Geneseo Migrant Center
Eleven different scholarships specific to migrant students are administered by this group, making it easier for students of varied backgrounds and interests to find a suitable application.

Services & Resources for Migrant Students

  • Office of Migrant Education Overseen by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, OME provides funding, technical assistance and leadership to schools working to improve educational access and success for migrant children and their families. Some of the ways the office accomplishes their goals is by supplying funding, completing comprehensive needs assessments, and making it easier for student records exchanges for learners who move schools frequently.
  • College Assistance Migrant Program CAMP is another U.S. Department of Education initiative that works to support migrant farmworkers (or their children) by providing funding and support to qualifying colleges, universities and nonprofit organizations. The program currently serves 2,000 students annually by supporting learners through their first year of undergraduate studies. Outside grants, CAMP also provides outreach services, including tutoring, skills development, health services, housing assistance and counseling.
  • Migrant Students Foundation This non-profit organization has worked with migrant families since first opening its doors in 2002. Operating from a two-fold mission, MSF works to empower migrant students to seek out learning opportunities while also equipping educators with the tools they need to best serve their classrooms. Scholarships, internships, and service learning opportunities are searchable via a comprehensive database, while training opportunities are available for educators.

First Generation College Students

A recent report by the National Center for Education Statistics found that approximately 30 percent of all incoming freshman are the first in their family to attend college, and that’s overwhelmingly true for students from Hispanic families. While it’s an exciting time for students and parents alike, it can also be a time of uncertainty. From filling out applications and securing funding to signing up for classes and writing papers, first-generation students often find their first year may feel like an uphill battle to get up to speed with all that college entails. Did you know?

A high school diploma or less is the highest level of education achieved by half of all Latino students’ parents.

Scholarships for First Generation Students Attending College

Ann Biggs/Thelma Salazar Scholarship for First Generation Immigrant Children

Sponsoring Organization: University of Texas – San Antonio
Amount:Up to $8,000
Application Deadline: With Application
This scholarship is made available to students who have at least one parent who immigrated to the U.S., with preference given to those from Mexico or Central America.

HACI Abroad Scholarship

Sponsoring Organization: IES Abroad
Amount:Up to $5,000
Application Deadline: Varies
Covers the cost of summer, semester, or academic years abroad via IES Abroad programs, with priority given to first-generation college students.

Hispanic Scholarship Council Scholarship

Sponsoring Organization: Hispanic Scholarship Council
Amount:$20,000
Application Deadline: With Application
Awarded to Incoming UC San Diego students who are the first in their family to attend college and can show financial need.

The Alfred Hugo Radke and Gerda Else Radke Scholarship

Sponsoring Organization: Averett University
Amount:Varies
Application Deadline: With Application
Provided to international or first generation students who demonstrate financial need and maintain at least a 3.0 GPA.

Ventures Scholarship

Sponsoring Organization: Ventures Scholars Program
Amount:Varies
Application Deadline: Varies
Students who are traditionally underrepresented and first-generation who plan to attend college are qualified to apply for this scholarship.

From the Expert

Chad Bantner is the director of the Life Prep, an educational and leadership program that he developed for Academia Avance Charter School in Los Angeles, CA. The capstone class is The Work Educational Experience, where college ready seniors participate in a professional internship, which is in alignment with their personal mission statement. The Life Prep Program also focuses on college bridge, career readiness, project management, and technology through 10th, 11th, and 12th grades. Bantner is a graduate of The Juilliard School, and has worked professionally with The Martha Graham Dance Company, Celine Dion, and Blue Man Group, to name a few.


  • How can an undocumented student know whether or not a college or university will let them attend and how can they go about navigating this process?


    All will let undocumented students attend if they meet the criteria. Students can use a search engine such as Google, and write the college name + DREAMER or DREAMERS Club + Scholarships. Many times you find this information on school websites, under their diversity tabs. We find that religious colleges are especially welcoming to undocumented students, and see the human story first.

    If a student doesn’t see clubs or scholarships on the school’s website or through a search, but really want to attend a particular college, I recommend that the student call admissions, set up an appointment time over the phone or in person if possible, and tell them his/her story and situation. Ask how you the school will evaluate your application. For example, will you be considered an in-state student or out-of-state, U.S. resident or an international student?


  • What is your advice for undocumented, migrant students who want to attend college but don't know how to start or are afraid of being deported?


    At this time, colleges stand with their missions in education, not as reporting on immigration status and many California schools are heavily attended by international students. Students can call the admissions offices at their colleges of interest and ask for the school’s stance on undocumented students and where they could find further information on the school’s website, about school clubs and any departments that are working with undocumented students on campus.

    With that said, California’s California State University and University of California are state-funded. Records of AB-540 status would be available to state institutions if a judge issued order. At this time, students are not to pursue DACA until further information is known under the Trump Presidency. For students looking to learn more about these questions, I would recommend vising the websites of MALDEF or Undocumedia.


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