Securing financial aid to help pay for college tuition and expenses is a top priority for most students in the U.S. Fortunately, students can access many resources, both online and through their university or college, to help them locate, apply for, and obtain funding. In many cases, financial aid can be obtained in the form of grants, loans, scholarships, and work-study programs. Some funds may be set aside by universities or offered by organizations or private donors to directly benefit minority students.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), grants and loans represent the most common forms of federal financial aid for students. The largest grant program in this category is the need-based Pell Grant. Based on trends over the last 35 years, NCES data shows promising statistics for many full-time minority college students. Though financial aid for black and white students has remained about the same, since 1980, Hispanic, Asian, and other minority groups continue to receive more financial aid each year. NCES projects that, by 2025, the percentage of Hispanic, Asian, and other minority students receiving financial aid will more than double. In order to secure these funds, it is essential for prospective students to seek out and apply for as many funding sources as possible.

Scholarships for African-American Accounting Students

National Association of Black Accountants – National Scholarship Program

  • Amount: $1,500
  • Deadline: January 31
  • Requirements: Applicants must be active African-American members in the National Association of Black Accountants; currently enrolled as a full-time student majoring in accounting, finance, or business; and hold a minimum GPA of 3.3. Full-time graduate students in a related master’s program can also apply. Applicants must submit one letter of recommendation, a personal biography, a professional headshot, and a 500-word essay describing how they embody the association’s motto of “lifting as we climb.”

Illinois CPA Society – Herman J. Neal Scholarship

  • Amount: $4,000
  • Deadline: April 1
  • Requirements: Applicants must be African-American undergraduate juniors, seniors, or graduate students with a minimum GPA of 3.0. Applicants must plan to sit for the CPA exam in Illinois within three years of their application date and show progress in their accounting courses.

National Association of Black Accountants – Member Scholarship Awards

  • Amount: $1,000-$3,000
  • Deadline: January 31
  • Requirements: Applicants must be active African-American members in the National Association of Black Accountants; currently enrolled as a full-time student majoring in accounting, finance, or business; and hold a minimum GPA of 3.3. Full-time graduate students in a related master’s program can also apply. Applicants must submit one letter of recommendation, a personal biography, a professional headshot, and a 500-word essay describing how they embody the association’s motto of “lifting as we climb.”

AICPA Scholarship Award for Minority Accounting Students

  • Amount: $3,000-$5,000
  • Deadline: March 1
  • Requirements: Candidates must be student affiliate members of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, full-time undergraduate or graduate minority students majoring in accounting or a related major, have a minimum GPA of 3.0, demonstrate financial need, and be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. Recipient selection is based on academic achievement, demonstration of leadership and volunteerism, and a candidate’s overall commitment to becoming a licensed CPA professional. This award is renewable, but applicants must reapply each year.

George Washington Carver Scholarship Fund

  • Amount: Up to $10,000
  • Deadline: May 30
  • Requirements: Candidates must be attending a historically black college or university and pursuing a major in a field related to accounting or an area of math, science, or technology. Applicants should have at least 40 hours of documented volunteer work and proof of financial need. There are no minimum GPA or test-score requirements, but these numbers may be considered as part of the judging process depending on the availability of funds. Applicants must also submit a personal statement outlining their professional goals and a headshot.

PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS FOR AFRICAN AMERICAN STUDENTS

  • National Association of Black Accountants: The National Association of Black Accountants (NABA) is a nonprofit membership association that represents more than 200,000 black professionals in accounting, finance, and related business fields. This organization connects African-American students to financial resources and scholarship information in an effort to promote and develop professional skills in minority students. NABA’s goal is to ensure long-term financial stability for local, regional, and national programs that represent the interests of current and prospective African-American accounting professionals.
  • United Negro College Fund: UNCF is a nonprofit based in the District of Columbia that helps underrepresented students become highly qualified college graduates. UNCF offers scholarships each year, which typically totals more than $100 million, to more than 10,000 students. Volunteers and UNCF employees work with historically black colleges and universities and their students to run successful fundraisers and provide support for minority students of all ages.
  • National Black Student Union: The National Black Student Union (NBSU) brings together black student unions from collegiate institutions at national, regional, and state forums. Its goal is to enhance the quality of life for undergraduate college students while encouraging African-American learners to pursue graduate and professional studies. NBSU networking efforts help students secure employment in public, private, and nonprofit sectors upon graduation.

Scholarships for Hispanic and Latino Accounting Students

Association of Latino Professionals in Finance and Accounting (ALPFA) – PWC Scholarship

  • Amount: $2,500
  • Deadline: May 31
  • Requirements: Applicants must be of Hispanic heritage, ALPFA members, and U.S. citizens or legal residents majoring in accounting with a minimum GPA of 3.4. Applicants must submit a resume. Judges award two of these scholarships each year.

Association of Hispanic Professionals, Inc. Scholarship

  • Amount: $1,000
  • Deadline: February 1
  • Requirements: Applicants must be graduating high school seniors of Hispanic descent with a 3.0 GPA or higher. Applicants must have been accepted to an accredited higher education institution, demonstrate financial need, and have a strong record of community service.

Association of Hispanic Professionals, Inc. La Piñata Scholarship

  • Amount: $1,000
  • Deadline: February 1
  • Requirements: Applicants must be graduating high school seniors of Mexican descent with a 3.0 GPA or higher. Applicants must have been accepted to an accredited higher education institution, demonstrate financial need, and have a strong record of community service.

Hispanic Scholarship Fund

  • Amount: $500-$5,000
  • Deadline: April 2
  • Requirements: Applicants must be of Hispanic heritage and hold a minimum 3.0 GPA for high school students or a minimum 2.5 GPA for college and graduate students. Candidates must also be U.S. citizens, permanent legal residents, DACA recipients, or eligible non-citizens as defined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Students of all majors and graduate fields may apply.

Hispanic Scholarship Consortium

  • Amount: Variable
  • Deadline: April 30
  • Requirements: Applicants must be of Hispanic or Latino heritage and plan to enroll in a two- or four-year college in the U.S. on a full-time or part-time basis. Eligible students must hold a GPA of 2.5 or higher. Applicants must reside in Texas, although U.S. citizenship is not required. Scholarships may be renewed each year.

PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS FOR HISPANIC AND LATINO STUDENTS

  • Association of Latino Professionals in Finance and Accounting: ALPFA was the first national Latino professional association in the U.S., and it serves more than 81,000 professional and student members. Members gain access to professional leadership development opportunities, including 50,000 paid summer internships offered through Fortune 1000 corporate partners. With the help of 157 sponsors, ALPFA has awarded $1.4 million in minority accounting scholarships since 2005.
  • The Association of Hispanic Professionals, Inc.: The Association of Hispanic Professionals, Inc. is a nonprofit that offers numerous scholarships for high school and college students of Hispanic descent. The association hosts networking events, fundraisers, and scholarship dinners. These funds have helped support over 300 accomplished alumni.
  • Hispanic Scholarship Consortium: The Hispanic Scholarship Consortium provides resources to Hispanic students and offers a support network of mentors. It focuses on helping scholars graduate from college and enter the workforce as productive and engaged citizens. The consortium offers renewable scholarships, workshops, and training programs to support students working toward their degrees.

Scholarships for Native American Accounting Students

BlueBird Certified Public Accountants Scholarship for Native American Accounting Students

  • Amount: Up to $5,000
  • Deadline: February 15
  • Requirements: Applicants must be Native American students attending school full time. Undergraduate students must have a minimum GPA of 3.0 and graduate students must have a minimum GPA of 3.5. Applicants must have at least 60 documented hours of community service and submit two letters of recommendation.

National Center For American Indian Enterprise Development – Business Scholarship Program

  • Amount: Varies
  • Deadline: Varies
  • Requirements: Applicant must be a full-time junior, senior, or graduate student majoring in a business related field at an accredited school. Students must submit a personal essay, official transcripts, a letter of admission to an accredited college, and a copy of their class schedule for the upcoming fall semester. If selected, candidate must attend the organization’s Scholarship Awards Luncheon.

Wells Fargo American Indian Scholarship

  • Amount: Variable
  • Deadline: May 1
  • Requirements: Applicants must be members of a recognized American Indian tribe, Alaskan Native group, or provide documentation proving at least one-fourth Native American blood. Undergraduate students must meet the eligibility criteria for the Pell Grant, while graduate students must be attending school full time and demonstrate financial need. Applicants must answer a series of supplemental questions regarding their recent extracurricular activities, community engagement, employment, internships, and leadership roles.

American Indian College Fund

  • Amount: Variable
  • Deadline: May 31
  • Requirements: Applicants seeking minority accounting scholarships must be U.S. or Canadian citizens enrolled at an accredited tribal, public, or private nonprofit college or university. Candidates must also be an enrolled member of a recognized tribe or a descendant of at least one grandparent or parent who is an enrolled tribal member. Applicants must hold a GPA of 2.0 or higher. Recipients cannot renew these scholarships.

International Order of the King’s Daughters and Sons – North American Indian Scholarships

  • Amount: $500-$700
  • Deadline: April 1
  • Requirements: Applicants must provide a tribal registration number and enroll in at least nine college-level credits per semester. Applicants must follow a list of guidelines provided on the website. They must also submit two letters of recommendation and a personal statement.

PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS FOR NATIVE AMERICAN STUDENTS

  • American Indian Graduate Center: The American Indian Graduate Center seeks to fund and empower the next generation of Native leaders in the U.S. This group has provided financial support for American Indians and Alaska Natives seeking higher education. It partners with tribes, the federal government, corporations, and foundations to help learners.
  • The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development: The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development is a nonprofit organization with over 40 years of experience helping American Indian tribal members navigate the complexities of academia, financial aid and planning, and the job market. The center’s website hosts several resources, including information about scholarships for accounting majors and other specialty areas, training and resources for Native entrepreneurs, business development tips, and suggestions as to how members can become more active in their communities.
  • Catching the Dream: This national Native American education and scholarship organization seeks out promising high school students from all regions and tribes in the U.S. Catching the Dream specializes in helping students prepare for college and helping high schools establish college preparatory courses. It also help Native American students locate and secure funding, including accounting scholarships.

Scholarships for Asian and Pacific Islander Accounting Students

National Association of Asian American Professionals – Philadelphia Future Leaders Scholarship Program

  • Amount: $1,000
  • Deadline: April 15
  • Requirements: Applicants must be Asian-American and submit an essay, resume, unofficial transcripts, and two letters of recommendation. Students must attend a high school in the greater Philadelphia area and hold a GPA of 3.0 or higher. Students should also demonstrate strong leadership potential and extracurricular involvement.

Asian Women in Business Scholarship Fund

  • Amount: $2,500
  • Deadline: TBD
  • Requirements: Applicants must be female U.S. citizens of Asian or Pacific Islander ancestry and carry a minimum GPA of 3.0. Applicants must submit official transcripts and follow all application submission guidelines.

The Tang Scholarship

  • Amount: Up to $60,000
  • Deadline: April 30
  • Requirements: Applicants must self-identify as Asian or Pacific Islander and belong to the LGBT community. Eligible students must be U.S. citizens or legal residents and graduates of a high school in the San Francisco Bay area. Candidates should hold a GPA of 3.0 or higher. Applicants must be full-time students who demonstrate financial need and academic promise.

Asian and Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund

  • Amount: $2,500-$20,000
  • Deadline: January 11
  • Requirements: Applicants must be of Asian or Pacific Islander descent, have a minimum GPA of 2.7, and be enrolled as a full-time undergraduate student at an accredited college or university in the U.S. Candidates must also be a citizen, national, or legal permanent resident of the U.S. Students apply using the FAFSA and submit one letter of recommendation. The fund awards multiple scholarships each year.

Against The Grain Productions – Groundbreaker Leadership Scholarship

  • Amount: $1,500
  • Deadline: May 7
  • Requirements: Applicants must be at least 50% Asian and/or Pacific Islander; a citizen, national, or legal permanent resident of the U.S.; and a high school senior or college senior enrolled full-time at a four-year college or a graduate student. Applicants must also have a minimum GPA of 3.5. Applicants submit a video presentation showcasing their work and qualifications as well as letters of recommendation and records of community service.

PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS FOR ASIAN AND PACIFIC ISLANDER STUDENTS

  • Asian Academic Accounting Association: Specializing in accounting education and research, this association organizes annual conferences that help current and aspiring accountants network with potential employers, business partners, and investors. Since 2011, all annual conferences have taken place outside of the U.S.
  • National Association of Asian American Professionals: This nonprofit cultivates and empowers Asian and Pacific Islander leaders by providing professional development opportunities, community service projects, and networking events and tools. Since 1982, the National Association of Asian American Professionals (NAAAP) has offered resources for professionals and students. Individual chapters, such as NAAAP-Boston or NAAAP-Philadelphia, offer additional scholarship opportunities.
  • Asian American Professional Association: This organization helps students and young professionals develop leadership and management skills through mentoring programs. By promoting Asian American leadership in the business and finance world, this nonprofit has helped more than half of its members earn promotions at their place of business. Students and recent graduates can utilize the association’s mentoring services and social events to grow their businesses and/or social contacts. These connections can lead to funding opportunities, employment, and collaboration.

Scholarships for Undocumented Accounting Students

Ascend Educational Fund

  • Amount: $2,500-$20,000
  • Deadline: February 2
  • Requirements: Applicants, or both of their parents, must have been born outside of the U.S. Students must be graduating seniors from one of the five boroughs of New York City and enrolled as full-time learners at any accredited public or private college. Applicants must submit their official high school transcripts, two letters of recommendation, two essays, and their SAT or ACT scores.

Association of Raza Educators Scholarship

  • Amount: Varies
  • Deadline: March 12
  • Requirements: Applicants must hold a minimum GPA of 2.5 and reside in San Diego. Individuals must also be an undocumented, AB 540, or DACA student or an active community member. Candidates should be enrolled full time at an accredited college or university for the upcoming fall semester. Application materials include two letters of recommendation and a personal statement.

Esperanza Education Fund Scholarships

  • Amount: $5,000-$20,000
  • Deadline: March 30
  • Requirements: Funding is reserved for graduating seniors or GED recipients in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia who plan to enroll as full-time students at an accredited institution. Applicants, or both of their parents, must have been born outside the U.S. and have an annual family income below $100,000. An interview may be required of finalists. The fund distributes awards evenly over the course of a student’s time in school.

Golden Door Scholars Program

  • Amount: Full, four-year tuition coverage
  • Deadline: October 27
  • Requirements: Applicants must be approved for DACA or temporary protected status and have a minimum GPA of 3.0. Candidates must also reside in a state that does not offer in-state tuition for DACA students. Funding is provided to undergraduates only; graduating high school seniors, recent high school graduates, and current undergraduate students can apply. Award recipients must attend one of 16 colleges that partner with Golden Door.

Hispanic Heritage Foundation Youth Awards

  • Amount: Varies
  • Deadline: October 15
  • Requirements: Undocumented students of Hispanic heritage may apply if they qualify under DACA, have a high school diploma or GED certificate, and carry a minimum GPA of 3.0. Judges award scholarships to high school seniors who excel in the classroom and community, as well as for their excellence in various categories, including business and entrepreneurship.

PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS FOR UNDOCUMENTED STUDENTS

  • Educators for Fair Consideration: Since 2009, Educators for Fair Consideration (E4FC) has developed resources to help undocumented students across the U.S. find scholarships for college. E4FC develops and maintains partnerships with several educational institutions to provide financial support for undocumented young people to help them overcome systemic barriers. The organization also provides access to career training, mentorships, and professional development opportunities to educate the undocumented community.
  • United We Dream: As the largest youth-led immigrant community in the country, United We Dream (UWD) provides educational and professional resources to immigrant youth, regardless of their immigration status. UWD’s Education Equity Program advances the education justice movement in the U.S. by focusing resources and research on the needs of immigrant students. It also highlights various funding opportunities throughout the academic year.
  • TheDream.US: TheDream.US helps thousands of motivated “Dreamers,”—undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children by their parents—attend school and complete college degrees. Because they do not qualify for Pell Grants, federal education loans, or work-study programs, many DREAMers cannot afford a college education. TheDream.US provides scholarships, legal guides, and career training resources for undocumented students across the country.

Types of Funding Available for Accounting Students

Scholarships

Because scholarships count as a “gift,” they need not be repaid, making them one of the best sources of financial aid. Students must apply for scholarships, which can be offered by their institution or through external sources such as private or nonprofit organizations. Awards tend to be highly competitive and merit based. To qualify as a competitive candidate, students must meet/exceed minimum requirements, many of which relate to an individual’s academic performance. Scholarships can also be reserved for particular groups of students based on their major, ethnicity, special talent, community participation, and/or volunteerism. These gifts can cover the entire cost of tuition or come in smaller amounts to help offset school-related expenses, such as supplies and books.

Grants

Grants typically do not have to be repaid. However, unlike scholarships, grants tend to be need-based awards. Grants can come from the federal or state government, colleges or vocational schools, and private organizations. Citizenship status may limit the number of grants for which students qualify. Some grants may be reserved for students with special skills, a military background, or pursuing a particular field of study. Many grants also target students who belong to specific ethnic groups. Learners should keep in mind that federal grants may need to be partially or fully repaid if a student withdraws from a program, if their enrollment status changes from full time to part time, or if they accept additional funding from an outside source after receiving a federal grant.

Work Study

Federal work-study programs provide part-time jobs for undergraduate and graduate students who demonstrate financial need. While enrolled and taking classes, students earn money by working for their school or a nonprofit organization to help offset expenses. Work-study positions pay at least the minimum hourly wage but may pay more depending on the type of job and a student’s skill set. The work-study program is available to both full-time and part-time students, although not all schools participate in the federal work-study program. It is important for prospective students to contact their school to find out if this is an option for financial assistance.

Federal Student Loans

Students who apply for financial aid may be offered loans as part of their school’s financial aid offer. A loan is borrowed money and must be repaid in full, with interest. Federal loans tend to have lower interest rates and more flexible repayment options than private loans. The U.S. Department of Education offers two types of federal student loan programs: direct loans and federal Perkins loans. Loans can also be subsidized or unsubsidized. Undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need may qualify to receive subsidized loans. In this case, the federal government pays the interest on a loan while students attend school, for the first six months after graduation, and during certain periods of deferment. Unsubsidized loans may be awarded to undergraduate, graduate, and professional students; learners need not prove financial need to receive these funds. For these loans, students must pay all interest themselves.

Private Loans

Private loans may also be an option. Some students utilize private loans if their financial situation unexpectedly changes, if they hit a federal borrowing limit, or if they failed to fill out the FAFSA. While a private loan may offer short-term convenience, most borrowers ultimately pay back significantly more than they borrowed because of high interest rates. Interest rates on private loans may change over the life of the loan and fluctuate in an unpredictable manner. Obtaining a private loan often entails a credit check and may require a cosigner. This funding source should be used as a last resort.

Filing the FAFSA

The FAFSA gives students access to the largest source of financial aid in the U.S. This form is critical to determine a student’s eligibility for state and school financial aid, and many private funding sources also require applicants to fill out the FAFSA. In order to apply for aid using the FAFSA, students must be a citizen or eligible noncitizen of the U.S. Applicants must also have a high school diploma or GED. To complete the FAFSA, students need their, and/or their parent’s, bank statements, records of untaxed income, and an FSA ID to sign up electronically. If a student is not a U.S. citizen, they need their Alien Registration number. Undocumented students cannot fill out the FAFSA. However, applicants do not have to speak English in order to file.

To be considered for aid, students must submit their FAFSA application between Oct. 1, 2017 and June 30, 2019 for the 2018-2019 academic year. However, many states and colleges have earlier deadlines for applying for state and institutional aid. Due to the variation in these dates, and the importance of this document, students should submit their completed FAFSA as soon as possible after October 1. It takes the Department of Education about 3-10 days to process FAFSA applications. After assessing a student’s expected family contribution and financial information, the Department of Education sends applicants their student aid report, which is also sent to any colleges and universities listed by the applicant. Each college determines a student’s eligibility for federal and nonfederal student aid. After prospective students complete the college’s application requirements and the college determines their eligibility, students receive a financial award letter from the school. Most schools send out financial award letters at the same time they send out admission offer letters. Students must fill out the FAFSA each academic year because federal aid does not carry over from one award year to the next.

Scholarship Application Tips

  • Consult An Adviser: When filling out important documents while preparing for college, such as scholarship applications, students should consult with a teacher, mentor, guidance counselor, and/or financial aid officer. It is also important to have another trustworthy individual look over any applications and accompanying documents to check for grammatical errors and the quality of the content.
  • Create An Email Account Used Only for Scholarship Purposes: Organization is one of the key elements to a successful application process. If students diversify their funding opportunities and apply for aid through several sources, they will likely engage in a large amount of email communication and receive dozens of electronic documents. To ease this process, applicants should create an email account specifically for handling application materials and correspondence with funding sources. This can help prospective students keep a closer eye on deadlines and responses or questions regarding applications.
  • Diversify Funding Options: When applying for scholarships, students should not limit themselves to a single category of aid. Students should try and apply for merit-based scholarships and whichever funding sources make sense given their background and educational goals. Minority students should apply to any scholarship reserved for students of their ethnic background and career goals. Additional funding options should also be considered. Applying for loans, grants, and work-study programs can be a lengthy process, and students should make sure to set aside enough time to apply. Nearly 400 colleges and universities ask applicants to complete a CSS profile in addition to the FAFSA. This is a more detailed financial profile that determines one’s eligibility for non-federal financial aid. This form may take longer to complete than the FAFSA and requires a $25 fee for the first application and $16 for each school it is sent to. It is important to note that the CSS profile does not take the place of the FAFSA. The CSS profile is simply an additional application that may help students find funding for school, especially if they come from a low-income family.
  • Recommendations Matter: Most scholarships require at least one letter of recommendation. These letters should come from academic or professional figures in a student’s life. If a scholarship asks for a personal reference, applicants should choose someone who knows them well and can write honestly about their strengths. It is important to give letter writers ample time to craft their letters and turn them in; it is in poor taste to ask for a recommendation at the last minute. Applicants should try and ask for recommendations no less than six weeks before an application deadline.
  • Avoid Scams and Fake Scholarships: Navigating dozens of financial aid websites can be exhausting and disorienting, but students should be sure to only submit information to credible institutions and programs that appear to have a legitimate track record. Established scholarships often feature a list of previous winners, a detailed website outlining the details of the scholarship, and the organizations or donors who provide the award. Beware of scholarships that require a specific application fee and be careful about divulging personal information.

Additional Scholarship Resources for Accounting Students

  • American Institute of Certified Public Accountants: AICPA offers a variety of funding resources, career and research tips, and up-to-date information on federal laws and regulations. Its homepage provides a thorough overview of affiliated entities and other accounting organizations that help professionals and students succeed at any stage of their careers.
  • College-Financial-Aid-Advice.com: This site hosts minority accounting scholarship information and other college application advice. It is updated regularly to include current financial aid information related to grants, scholarships, and student loans. The site also contains sample essay questions commonly found on scholarship applications.
  • UNIGO Minority Scholarships: This search engine allows individuals to find accounting scholarships and other specialized funding sources. Students can search for scholarship opportunities based on their specialty, major, state, and degree level. UNIGO also offers a dozen internal scholarships.
  • CollegeScholarships.org: Students can find minority accounting scholarships as well as a diverse set of funding opportunities that target learners of different ethnicities. This site also offers a scholarship search engine with various filters.
  • SallieMae: This site offers scholarship advice for minority students and includes a database with more than five million college scholarships. Students seeking a minority accounting scholarship, as well as additional information related to student loans, college planning, and banking, may benefit from visiting SallieMae’s website.