Empowering Students & Encouraging Equality
Many organizations and foundations offer scholarship awards specifically for LGBTQIA students to ensure lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, intersex and asexual students have the opportunity to pursue higher education. But these scholarships also empower students and foster equality on college campuses across the country. Find scholarships for LGBTQIA students and allies and get expert tips on how to increase your chances of winning an award.
LGBTQIA Scholarships by State
There are tons of scholarships available to LGBTQIA students. Some opportunities are exclusively for LGBTQIA students, while others may be open to ally and questioning students as well. These awards help students achieve their academic goals while also encouraging diversity and equality on college campuses. Use the search tool below to find scholarships in your state.
SEARCH SCHOLARSHIPS BY STATE
Scholarship Application Tips
Applying for scholarships is a time-consuming and sometimes overwhelming process for any student, but some LGBTQIA students may feel additional stress when filling out applications, such as those who haven't come out to their friends or family. Dr. Christopher Tremblay, LGBTQIA advocate and administrator at Michigan State University, offers the following scholarship application tips for LGBTQIA students and allies.
Get involved with the LGBTQIA community early on
One of the most common requirements of LGBTQIA scholarships is a proven history of serving the community, fighting for equality and demonstrated leadership. Long before scholarship applications are due, LGBTQIA students and allies should focus on building these experiences. An example of how to get involved would be starting or joining a GSA club at your high school.
Make sure you're comfortable with the winning stipulations
Lots of scholarships have legal language written within the fine print that state how and where your information can be used if you're chosen as a scholarship recipient. Students who aren't out may want to pay close attention to this language. "With such language, you may be granting permission to use your name and other information publicly, with which you may not be comfortable," says Dr. Tremblay. "Some awards may include a celebration event on campus, while other schools list previous scholarship recipients on websites. Find out before signing on."
Find out how the scholarship will be listed on your financial aid award letter if you win
Some scholarships have names that clearly identify them as serving LGBTQIA students. If you're not out, this could be a concern. "Because all scholarships appear on your financial aid award letter, pay attention to the names as these scholarships will be visible to your parents," says Dr. Tremblay. "You may want to contact the college office administering the scholarship to see how it is listed."
Follow the instructions
Every scholarship has unique instructions and requirements, so read through everything carefully before applying. Some may only require you to be a self-identifying member of the LGBTQIA community, while others want to see a demonstrated commitment to LGBTQIA interests. "Review the criteria to make sure you meet all requirements for maximum consideration," says Dr. Tremblay. "For example, some require you to be admitted to the university first and take part in organizations, while others base their decision on high school involvement."
Read scholarship descriptions carefully
Dr. Tremblay says students who want the best chances for receiving multiple scholarships need to do their homework and research carefully, especially because not all opportunities will look as if they're for LGBTQIA students at first glance. "When looking for LGBTQIA scholarships, keep in mind that not all of them have ‘LGBTQIA' in their name," he says. "You may have to search deeper and read descriptions – especially for scholarships that bear someone's name."
Build relationships with teachers
"Be sure to have been building relationships with teachers and staff that can support your application and discuss your LGBTQIA activism and involvement," recommends Dr. Tremblay. Some scholarships require letters of recommendation so you'll need to find someone who can speak to your accomplishments and abilities. For students who aren't out, look for someone you trust and are comfortable with.
Ask for help
Applying for scholarships is an involved process that requires lots of mental and emotional stamina – especially when asked to write personal essays about your experiences as an LGBTQIA individual and community member. To ensure you've expressed yourself clearly and professionally, don't forget to ask for help. "Ask an LGBTQIA mentor to review your scholarship application responses to ensure professionalism and appropriateness," says Dr. Tremblay.
Pay it forward
Once you've won a scholarship, don't forget to give back and help those who are going through – or will be going through – the process you just conquered. "Be sure to pay it forward later by making donations to scholarship funds that support the financial needs of LGBTQIA students after you graduate," says Dr. Tremblay. "Every little bit helps."
What to Look for if You're Moving Away from Home
It's hard to leave people, places and memories that you've grown accustomed to, but it helps tremendously if you're moving to a place that provides support, encouragement and a sense of community. If you're thinking about moving away from home, Dr. Tremblay offers these tips for what to look for in a college and a new city.
When evaluating colleges:
- Look for the presence of gender identity/expression and sexual orientation in the non-discrimination policy/statement of the college university. These documents communicate the level of LGBTQIA-friendliness of the campus.
- Pay attention to whether preferred first names and preferred pronouns are used in the college admissions application process and beyond.
- Check to see if there's an LGBTQIA student organization on campus. Does the group seem to be active and flourishing? What types of activities do they do and how often do they take place?
- Does the school have an LGBTQIA Center on campus? If so, how many staff members does it have and what type of services does it offer?
- Ask about bathrooms and housing. Does the campus offer gender-inclusive restrooms and/or gender-inclusive student housing?
- Check in with the student counseling center and ask whether there's an on-staff counselor who has experience with or specializes in working with LGBTQIA students.
When evaluating cities:
- Check to see if the city has an LGBTQIA Resource Center or Community Center. If so, contact the director or a representative to learn more about the climate of the city and the college you're considering.
- Find out whether the LGBTQIA Resource Center or Community Center offers services for young professionals. If not, check to see if there's an LGBTQIA Chamber of Commerce or young professional's council.
- Google "LGBT" and the name of the city to see what comes up in the news feed. Students should pay attention to both positive and negative news that comes up.
- Check out the Human Rights Campaign's Municipal Equality Index to see if the city you're thinking of moving to is on the list and, if so, how it rates.
4 Good U.S. Cities for LGBTQIA Students
There are several U.S. cities that foster and encourage inclusivity. Four examples of such cities include:
Though some may assume this southern city couldn't compete with other metropolitan areas in terms of equality, the Human Rights Campaign gave the largest municipality of Kentucky a perfect score of 100 in 2017. In addition to the city providing services to LGBTQIA youth, elders, homeless and HIV+/AIDS populations, Louisville also has a vibrant community and nightlife for ally and LGBTQIA communities. City leaders maintain supportive views on LGBTQIA equality and numerous openly LGBTQIA individuals have been elected or appointed to municipal positions.
Known as the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia is home to more than 1.5 million people and has a long history of adopting an inclusive attitude towards its LGBTQIA residents. In addition to the "Gayborhood", as the city's longtime gay community is known, Philadelphia also has a strong history of non-discrimination in areas of employment, housing and public accommodation. The local government is known for being inclusive, and the city itself provides a range of helpful services specifically aimed at LGBTQIA populations.
Seattle has the largest percentage of same-sex households in all the United States and a low number of hate crimes related to sexual orientation. The Human Rights Campaign gave Seattle a perfect score of 100 in its 2017 rating.
The state of Texas may not be the first place that pops into people's minds in terms of equality, but the city of Austin is a different story. This bright spot of the Longhorn State is well-known for strong anti-discrimination laws and enforcement that keeps sexual orientation-related hate crimes to a minimum. The local government is active in fulfilling the needs of LGBTQIA communities, and openly out officials hold positions of power within the local government.
How Parents Can be Supportive from Afar
Parents of LGBTQIA students only want the best for their children so it's natural to worry about their health, safety and happiness once they leave for school. Dr. Tremblay offers a few tips for parents who want to support their children from afar.