Financial Aid for Minority Students
Earning a college degree is a rewarding but expensive undertaking. To help meet costs associated with getting a degree, about 86% of students at four-year colleges and 79% of students at two-year colleges pursue minority medical scholarships, grants, loans, and work-study programs. Although minority students now outnumber white students in at K-12 schools in the U.S., they are not equally represented on college and university campuses. In fact, inequality has long characterized the history of minority education in the U.S., but today’s opportunities for financial aid can help minority students scale barriers to access for higher education. Many minority students can find grants and scholarships specifically designed for them. Scholarships for minority medical students are often competitive, but they typically provide sizable funding.
Organizations such as Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), and the American Indian College Fund (AICF) provide extensive resources for minority students. College applicants can contact the appropriate organization about scholarships and request assistance with finding financial aid.
Scholarships for African-American Medical Billing and Coding Students
High school students accepted to a two-year or four-year college who identify as atheist, agnostic, secular, and/or humanist may apply.
Deadline: June 15
Students who attend one of TMCF’s 47 member-schools with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Applicants must demonstrate leadership ability and involvement in the HBCU community.
Deadline: June 17
Graduating high school seniors, transfer students, and current HBCU students who plan to enroll in an HBCU institution must submit a YouTube video on the topics assigned by the funder.
Deadline: August 1
African-American graduating high school seniors with a minimum 3.0 GPA must complete the application and a 300-word essay.
Deadline: March 1
African-American graduating high school seniors with a minimum 3.0 GPA must complete the application and a 300-word essay. Although not specifically medical in nature, this award is among the minority medical scholarships.
Deadline: March 1
African-American women aged 21 or older whose higher education was interrupted or postponed may apply for this scholarship funded by the National Hook-Up of Black Women, Inc.
Deadline: March 1
Professional Organizations for African American Students
- National Black Student Union: A network of black student unions, NBSU hosts the Annual National Black Student Union Conference, manages job fairs, and provides speakers to local unions. Students typically join a campus-wide black student union at their school, which may offer local benefits, and can take advantage of the national group’s resources.
- American Medical Billing Association: Open to all eligible members, AMBA is a professional organization that provides the CMRS exam, which is the industry standard for certification. Members take advantage of a national conference, networking opportunities, and professional education. The organization is 20 years old with a mission to “promote continuity in the medical billing and coding industry.”
- AAPC: Formerly known as the American Academy of Professional Coders, AAPC was founded in 1988. The organization partners with schools to provide exam training, code books, curriculum licensing, and access to a job board. AAPC also manages the AAPCCA Hardship Scholarship Fund and Project AAPC, which help members who are struggling financially. This organization is open to qualified professionals of all ethnicities and races and is a resource for scholarships for minority medical students.
Scholarships for Hispanic and Latino Medical Billing and Coding Students
Funded by McDonald’s, this scholarship requires high school seniors under 21 with a minimum GPA of 2.7 who meet other eligibility criteria to have at least one parent of Hispanic origin.
Amount: $100,000 (over four years)
High school seniors, undergraduate students, and graduate students of Hispanic heritage may apply. Applicants need a minimum GPA of 3.0 for high school students or 2.5 for college students.
Full-time students attending a four-year HACU school in the U.S. with a mini meet the eligibility requirements. The program encourages applications from first-generation students.
Deadline: May 25
Students attending a two-year or four-year HACU school in a qualifying state can apply. The scholarship is open to all majors, and the minimum required GPA is 2.5. Applicants must be at least 21 years old.
Deadline: May 25
The Truth Initiative offers a scholarship to the winner of its contest. Members of populations disproportionately affected by smoking, including members of Hispanic populations, can apply.
Deadline: April 30
Professional Organizations for Hispanic and Latino Students
- Association of Latino Professionals For America: ALPFA is 45 years old and serves more than 81,000 professionals. The organization provides a national convention, regional student symposiums, and a scholarship program. More than 160 student or university chapters participate in ALPFA, and students can take advantage of the organization’s online career center.
- MANA: Founded in 1974, this national Latina organization welcomes chapter members and individual members. The association’s mission is “to empower Latinas through leadership development, community service, and advocacy.” Student members can lead, serve, and advocate for important issues and make valuable professional contacts.
- League of United Latin American Citizens: A membership organization serving the Latin American community, LULAC focuses on housing, health, and civil rights. Members can join activities that help end injustice and oppression for Hispanic people as well as receive leadership training. The organization offers scholarship programs, empowerment initiatives, a national conference, and a women’s conference.
Scholarships for Native American Medical Billing and Coding Students
Applications are open to full-time students with a minimum 2.5 GPA who are enrolled as members of a Tribe in the continental United States or Alaska. Certificate and seminary students do not qualify.
Deadline: December 17 (Spring); July 15 (Fall)
This scholarship is available to Cherokee Nation members who are pursuing a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited institution of higher learning. Although open to students in nearly any major, this award is among the minority medical scholarships that fund a coding and billing degree.
Deadline: June 15
Additional Info: Students must perform volunteer hours determined by the amount of award they receive.
One of several scholarships and grants offered by the Chickasaw Nation, this scholarship requires recipients to hold a minimum 3.0 GPA and take at least three credit hours per term.
Deadline: September 1 (Fall); February 1 (Spring); June 15 (Summer)
Applicants must be enrolled in a degree or certificate program at an accredited university and prove membership in a Tribe or direct line to a parent or grandparent who is Tribe member. Applicants also need a minimum 2.0 GPA.
Deadline: May 31
Funded by American Indian Services, this scholarship is open to full-time or part-time students enrolled in a college or technical school with a minimum 2.25 GPA.
Deadline: Feb 1, May 1, Aug 1, Nov 1
Professional Organizations for Native American Students
- Bureau of Indian Education: BIE is federal agency operating under the Department of the Interior with a mission to “provide quality education opportunities from early childhood through life in accordance with a tribe’s needs for cultural and economic wellbeing.” The website includes extensive information on grants, scholarships for minority medical students, tribally operated colleges and universities, and associations helpful to Native American students in higher education, including those seeking minority medical scholarships.
- National Congress of American Indians: Founded in 1944, the NCAI is the oldest, largest, and most diverse representative body of American Indians and Alaska Natives. The organization offers events, resources, and initiatives to improve the lives of the communities it serves. Among its youth-oriented programs are fellowships and internships open to students and young professionals. NCAI is also a resource for students seeking scholarships.
- National Indian Education Association: The NIEA began in 1970, and its mission is to meet community, student, and educator needs among American Indians. Today, the organization hosts conventions, provides professional awards, and advocates for causes important to its membership. The website includes information on applying to colleges, including how to secure funding.
Scholarships for Asian and Pacific-Islander Medical Billing and Coding Students
Incoming freshmen at two-year and four-year colleges with a minimum 3.0 GPA who demonstrate financial need and an interest in social justice may apply. The student or a parent must work or have worked at an Asian-owned or Asian cuisine eatery.
Deadline: February 23
Asian and Pacific-Islander American students enrolled in or planning to attend an accredited American college or university as undergraduates may apply.
Amount: January 11
The U.S. Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce manages about 24 scholarships each with different requirements. Applicants must submit an essay, transcripts, tax documents, letters of recommendation, and information on their college degree plans.
Deadline: March 30
Administered by the Japanese American Citizens League, students of any ethnic background are qualified for this scholarship. Recipients must be members of the national JACL.
Deadline: March 1
College students of all levels who are active in the API or LGBT communities may apply. Applicants do not need to identify as either API or LGBT.
Deadline: June 30
Professional Organizations for Asian and Pacific Islander Students
- Asian American Professional Association: Established in 1999, AAPA promotes Asian-American leadership and career advancement. The organization achieves its mission through a national mentoring program for professionals. Prospective mentors and mentees can apply on the national website. AAPA also offers events, a board leadership program, and an alliance with the communications group Toastmasters.
- National Council of Asian Pacific Americans: Headquartered in Washington, D.C., NCAPA is a national coalition of 34 Asian and Pacific-Islander associations organized to provide a single voice for issues affecting Asian and Pacific Americans. These issues include housing, immigration, civil rights, education, and healthcare. The national group provides resources and puts individuals in touch with its member organizations.
- Asian and Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund: The largest clearinghouse of information for scholarships supporting the education of Asian and Pacific-Islander Americans, APIASF provides scholarships directly as well as forges partnerships with other funding organizations. It offers guidance to students throughout their higher education experience and establishes relationships with APIA and educational communities.
Scholarships for Undocumented Medical Billing and Coding Students
Students living in the U.S. under DACA or TPS who are pursuing an undergraduate degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA may apply. Applicants paying out-of-state tuition at public schools in their home states receive priority.
Applicants must be high school or community college graduates with DACA or TPS status and must attend one of The Dream’s 75 partner colleges.
Deadline: March 1
Additional Info: Maximum award for an associate degree is $14,500 and for a bachelor’s degree is $29,000. Students may receive an additional $4,000 stipend.
Designed for undocumented students, applicants must demonstrate financial need, show academic promise, and give evidence of involvement in extracurricular activities. It is among the scholarships for minority medical students.
Amount: $500 (Varies)
This scholarship helps fund the college education of student activists in the progressive movement in the U.S. Students must enroll in an accredited college and should plan to remain in the U.S. after graduation.
Amount: Up to $10,000
Deadline: April 1
High school seniors, undergraduates, and graduate students can enter an essay contest responding to Ayn Rand’s novel “The Fountainhead.” The Ayn Rand Institute establishes the topics, rules, and judging criteria for the contest.
Amount: Up to $10,000
Deadline: May 15
Additional Info: The contest gives out about 235 awards from $50 to $10,000 each.
Professional Organizations for Undocumented Students
- United We Dream: As a youth-led immigrant community, United We Dream hosts four million members, five statewide branches, and more than 100 local groups. One of its four key focus areas is education access for immigrants. As part of that focus area, United We Dream hosts an online database of scholarships, including scholarships for minority medical students, and other resources for undocumented students.
- National Association for College Admission Counseling: Founded in 1937, NACAC consists of more than 16,000 professionals dedicated to serving post-secondary students. The organization’s knowledge resource center provides extensive information relevant to DACA students and colleges that serve them, including a resource called “Informed Immigrant, A Guide for Educators: Supporting Undocumented Students and Their Families.”
- National Association of Student Personnel Administrators: Since its inception in 1918 as a group of six people, NASPA expanded to 15,000 members in all 50 states, 25 countries, and eight U.S. territories. Among NASPA’s services is a knowledge community for undocumented immigrants and allies that offers up-to-date research, knowledge, and resources for undocumented students pursuing higher education.
Types of Funding Available for Medical Billing and Coding Students
Scholarships for minority medical students are competitive, merit-based funds awarded to applicants who meet or exceed established criteria. Private donors and public agencies provide funding and create eligibility standards for scholarships. Typically, applicants send information proving eligibility for the scholarship by an established deadline. Some scholarships are for students at a specific college, others support members of a certain race or ethnicity, and some are designed for particular majors, such as medical billing and coding. Students do not have to pay back scholarships and some are renewed by maintaining a minimum GPA and meeting other criteria.
Grants are funds given to scholars based on financial need, with the Pell Grant being among the most well-known. Many veterans and members of the military are eligible for grants from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Some grants come from private donors or colleges and some are available exclusively to ethnic minority students who demonstrate financial need. African American, Asian, Hispanic, undocumented, or other minority students can supplement scholarships and financial aid packages with ethnic-category grants, and they do not have to demonstrate academic prowess or community leadership. Unlike loans, grants do not have to be repaid.
Work-study programs help students secure funding by providing part-time work on campus or in the community. Undergraduate, graduate, and professional students can take advantage of federal work-study opportunities. Ideally, these jobs relate to the student’s major. For federal work-study, students receive at least the federal minimum wage and sometimes more, but hours are limited. Many colleges and universities operate private work-study programs, which they fund themselves. These programs are similar to federal programs, but they pay on a different scale and may be open to students who do not qualify for federal work-study aid.
Federal Student Loans
A student loan is aid provided to a borrower by a bank or lending institution. Loans must be paid back with interest. There are two main types of student loans: federal and private. Since the funder behind federal loans is the U.S. Department of Education, these loans come with a low interest rate and no required collateral. Federal loans include direct subsidized and direct unsubsidized loans. The U.S. government pays the interest on a direct subsidized loan while the student is in school and for a grace period upon graduation. Students pay interest on an unsubsidized loan.
Like federal loans, private loans help fund the cost of a student’s higher education. Recipients must repay the lender in full with interest. Unlike federal loans, the government offers no assistance for interest payment on private loans. Typically, a private loan rate is higher than loans offered by the federal government and there is no grace period. However, they are not capped like federal loans. Students who need private loans should speak with their local bank, credit union, or other lending institution.
Filing the FAFSA
Applying for student aid starts with completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The federal government, most states, many colleges, and several private funders use this application to determine if a student is eligible for aid, and if so, how much the student can receive. Students can download the FAFSA from the U.S. Department of Education website and complete it in English or Spanish.
To fill out the form, students must have their Social Security or alien registration number, federal income tax returns, bank statements, and records of untaxed income. Dependent students need the same information for their parents. Undocumented students, including those living in the U.S. under DACA, are not eligible for federal student aid. In some cases, however, they can receive state or private aid that requires them to complete the FAFSA for which they need to have a Social Security number.
According to federal guidelines, students must complete the FAFSA between October 1 and June 30 and may submit corrections until September 14. States and private funders may have different deadlines. The U.S. government calculates aid based on the cost of attendance and the expected family contribution.
Scholarship Application Tips:
- Follow the Application Guidelines Exactly: Some scholarships for minority medical students emphasize academic achievement, others want to know about community service, and still more focus on the essay portion of their applications. Applicants should read each scholarship’s guidelines carefully, completing every requirement. A missing form, an incomplete line, or an essay that doesn’t answer the prompt will hurt an applicant. A friend, counselor, or family member who reviews the application packet can help to ensure mistakes aren’t overlooked.
- Make Extracurricular Activities Shine: Most scholarships require students to demonstrate their potential for business and community leadership through involvement in extracurricular activities. Taking leadership roles in non-school activities, describing them in the application, and showing references for the work can help boost an application’s chances for success. Applicants for minority-directed scholarships should show the extent of their leadership within their communities.
- Write the Essay Clearly and Completely: Most scholarships require applicants to submit an essay. Typically, the application instructions include a prompt, word count, and other guidelines. When composing the essay, be sure to stick to the word limits, answer the prompt, avoid using quotes, and proofread carefully. Never plagiarize an essay, buy it off the internet, or hire someone to write it for you. Ask a friend, teacher, or counselor to review your essay and offer suggestions before submission.
- Choose Recommenders Wisely: Both college and scholarship applications usually need to include letters of recommendation from high school teachers, community leaders, employers, or others who know the applicant well. Make sure your recommendations come from people who can speak to your ability to succeed in medical billing and coding or who have direct knowledge of your academic or professional skills. Rarely do scholarship organizations accept recommendations from family members or other students.
- Submit Applications Early and Often: Make sure to submit the application before the deadline. Earlier is better since unexpected technology glitches, accidents, or personal concerns may delay your ability to finish an application. Additionally, submit your application to as many scholarships for minority medical students as possible. Most scholarship funds receive more applications than they can accept, so applying for many scholarships increases your chances of securing them.
Additional Scholarship Resources for Medical Billing and Coding Students
- JLV College Counseling: JLV College Counseling is a free resource for students and parents that provides application, admission, and financial aid information. Searchers can use its database of scholarships, including a search for minority scholarships, as well as review helpful tips for acquiring financial aid.
- Cappex: A searchable database of scholarships, including scholarships for minority medical students, Cappex provides easy ways to mine and bundle scholarship data by race, gender, and major. The site also offers college reviews, a college search function, and advice on college selection, financial aid, online learning, and other higher education topics.
- CollegeScholarships.Org: Collegescholarships.org provides an online searchable database of scholarships for prospective students. The site does not require searchers to submit personal information but it does allow them to search by category, including race, gender, subject, degree level, and state.
- Sallie Mae: Sallie Mae is a private student loan company that offers funding to bridge the gap between the total cost of higher education and funds received through grants, scholarships, and work-study. It offers helpful lists of scholarships, including some for minority students, as well as information on borrowing money for undergraduate programs.
- Federal Student Aid: An office of the U.S. Department of Education, this site is FAFSA’s home on the web. It explains the process for applying for aid, including tips for loan repayment, and provides information on the types of federal aid.