Financial Aid for Minority Students

Minorities have historically enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities at lower rates than white students, and on top of that, they are underrepresented in the healthcare field. White people represent less than 77% of the U.S. population, but make up more than 80% of the healthcare workforce, according to a 2016 study from the North Carolina Institute of Medicine and the Duke Endowment. However, scholarships for minority medical students are working to improve minority representation in higher education and the healthcare field, because financial aid can remove huge educational barriers for people of color.

Scholarships for African-American Medical Assistant Students

Cathy L. Brock Memorial Scholarship
Amount: $1,000
Deadline: Varies; Check website for updated information
Requirements: Students should be U.S. citizens and enrolled in an academic program related to healthcare administration. They must maintain a 3.0 GPA and demonstrate financial need. The Institute for Diversity and Health Equity sponsors this scholarship, and the program encourages applicants who “represent ethnically diverse cultural backgrounds” to apply.

National Association of Health Services Executive Scholarship
Amount: $2,500
Deadline: May 29
Requirements: Applicants should be minority students pursuing a career in healthcare management or a related field. They should demonstrate financial need and have a minimum 2.5 GPA for undergraduate students, and 3.0 for graduate students. The organization gives out multiple scholarships for graduate and undergraduate students.

EMPOWER Scholarship
Amount: Varies
Deadline: April 15
Requirements: Applicants must be ethnically diverse students pursuing a career in the medical or rehabilitation field. This program is for high school seniors who have been accepted into a college program.

The Agnes Jones Scholarship
Amount: $2,000
Deadline: Varies; Check website for updates
Requirements: Applicants must be members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and demonstrate financial need. They should also have at least a 2.5 GPA if they are undergraduate students and 3.0 GPA if they are graduate students. Students can complete applications on an online portal.

Thomara Latimer Cancer Foundation Scholarship
Amount: Varies
Deadline: Varies; Check website for updates
Requirements: Students should be pursuing a medical major. For more specific information, check the online application for updates. The Thom Latimer Cancer Foundation invites all scholarship recipients to a scholarship gala.

Professional Organizations for African American Students

  • National Medical Association: Medical assistants may join the NMA — an organization for African American medical professionals — as associate members. Active membership is reserved for physicians. Members receive discounts on continuing medical education programs and obtain access to the NMA Journal and the group’s career center.
  • Black Caucus of Health Workers: The caucus operates as a subgroup of the American Public Health Association, and invites African-American health workers to join. It runs programs dedicated to helping people of color in the U.S. who face discrimination and lack of medical care access.
  • 100 Black Men of America, Inc. and National Coalition of 100 Black Women: These two organizations take on the same mission of helping African-Americans find success in their careers. Both groups provide mentoring programs, offer scholarships, and run economic empowerment initiatives.

Scholarships for Hispanic and Latino/a Medical Assistant Students

Hispanic Scholarship Fund
Amount: $500 to $5,000
Deadline: April 2
Requirements: Applicants must be of Hispanic heritage and attending or planning to attend an accredited college and university. High school seniors should have a GPA of at least 3.0. Undergraduate or graduate students must have at least a 2.5 GPA. The scholarship committee considers applicants of all majors, but they place special emphasis on students in STEM majors.

National Hispanic Health Professional Student Scholarship
Amount: Varies
Deadline: Oct. 1
Requirements: Students must be pursuing a health-related major. Applicants must write an essay, submit a recommendation letter, and have at least a 3.0 GPA. The selection committee gives preference to members of the National Hispanic Health Foundation.

Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities Scholarships
Amount: $1,000 -$5,000
Deadline: May 25
Requirements: Applicants must demonstrate financial need and attend a HACU-member college in the United States or Puerto Rico. The HACU offers multiple different scholarships.

Hispanic Heritage Youth Award
Amount: Varies
Deadline: Oct. 15
Requirements: Students should be high school seniors planning to enrolling in a college or university. They must have Hispanic heritage and a minimum 3.0 GPA. Aspiring medical majors should enter in the Healthcare and Science category, where they can win the bronze, silver, or gold awards.

Richard B. Fisher Scholarship Program
Amount: Varies
Deadline: Varies; Check website for updates
Requirements: Must be enrolled full-time as a junior or senior in college, and from a minority group. Find extra information about the scholarship here.

Professional Organizations for Hispanic and Latino/a Students

  • Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement: The Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement is a professional association for Hispanic workers of any industry. The organization offers networking programs and conferences, and runs the University Leadership Network, which hosts career summits and job shadow days.
  • National Hispanic Medical Association: The National Hispanic Medical Association provides membership opportunities for physicians and non-physicians who work in the medical field. The organization runs scholarship programs and summits focusing on Hispanic and Latino/a issues. The group also hosts regional and national conferences.
  • Hispanic/Latino/a Professionals Association: This Association connects job seekers with employers in the Hispanic and Latino/a community. Its site includes a job search bar, which students may use to get ahead on their job search.

Scholarships for Native American Medical Assistant Students

Indian Health Service Scholarship Program
Amount: Varies
Deadline: Varies; check website for the most up-to-date deadline
Requirements: Students should be enrolled in a Native American tribe in order to apply for this internship; they should also be enrolled in a health-related degree program. See the FAQ page for more information.

American Indian Education Fund
Amount: Up to $2,000
Deadline: April 4
Requirements: Students must provide documentation as proof of Tribal enrollment. The scholarship contest does not require a minimum GPA or ACT score, but the selection committee prefers students with a GPA of at least 2.0 and an ACT score of at least 14.

National Institutes of Health Undergraduate Scholarship
Amount: Up to $20,000
Deadline: March 15
Requirements: Students should be enrolled in an accredited university and either have a GPA of at least 3.3 or be ranked in the top 5% of their class. Students may apply to renew the scholarship annually for four years. Recipients have access to training at the National Institutes of Health, and the opportunity to work there after graduation.

Wells Fargo Scholarship for Undergraduate American Indian and Alaska Students
Amount: Up to $5,000
Deadline: May 1
Requirements: Students must be enrolled in an American Indian tribe and full time in an accredited university. They must also have at least a 2.7 GPA. Students in any major may apply for this award.

Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium Board of Directors Scholarship
Amount: $5,000
Deadline: June 15
Requirements: Students should be enrolled in in a formal education program, permanent Alaska residents, and interested in the healthcare field.

Professional Organizations for Native American Students

  • National Center for American Indian Health Professions: Based at A.T. Still University in Kirksville, Missouri, this center runs mentorship programs for aspiring medical professionals, and lists funding opportunities on its site, including scholarships, loans, and fellowships specifically for American Indians.
  • Indian Health Service: This federal agency works in the U.S. Department of Social Services to improve the health and wellbeing of American Indians and Alaska Natives. The organization encourages Native Americans to enter the healthcare field by offering scholarships for students pursuing medical careers.
  • Native American Center for Health Professions: This center, located at the University of Madison-Wisconsin, aims to attract Native Americans to the healthcare industry. It runs partnerships and operates health programs with several Native American tribes.

Scholarships for Asian and Pacific Islander Medical Assistant Students

Asian and Pacific Islander American General Scholarship Program
Amount: $2,500 for one year to $20,000 for multiple years
Deadline: Jan. 11
Requirements: Students should represent the Asian and Pacific Islander ethnicity, live at or below poverty level, and be the first in their family to attend college. Applicants must have a minimum 2.7 GPA, and submit at least one recommendation letter. The organization provides several application resources.

APIASF AANAPISI Scholarship Program
Amount: $2,500 for one year to $5,000 for multiple years
Deadline: Nov. 7
Requirements: Students should represent the Asian and Pacific Islander ethnicity, live at or below poverty level, be the first in their family to attend college, and plan on attending an APIASF’s partner college. A list of APIASF’s partner colleges can be found on the organization’s website.

Native Hawaiian Health Scholarship
Amount: Varies
Deadline: April 30
Requirements: Applicants must prove their Native Hawaiian ancestry and plan to attend an accredited college or university, pursuing a health-related major. Detailed applications instructions are available online.

Asian Pacific Fund Scholarships
Amount: $1,000 to $20,000
Deadline: Feb. 23
Requirements: Applicants must be full-time college students with a minimum 3.0 GPA. The fund offers nine different scholarships.

U.S. Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce
Amount: $3,000 to $5,000
Deadline: March 30
Requirements: Interested students must be high school seniors planning to attend a university full time. They should submit an essay and two letters of recommendation. More guidelines, including essay prompts, are available on the scholarship website.

Professional Organizations for Asian and Pacific Islander Students

  • National Association of Asian American Professionals: This association welcomes professionals from all industries, as long as they are of Asian American or Pacific Islander descent. It features a career center, and offers webinars and leadership conventions, where members can further their education and skills.
  • Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations: This association operates as a network for Asian American and Pacific Islander health professionals, and provides health services for Asian American and Pacific Islander communities lacking accessible quality healthcare.
  • Asian and Pacific Islander American Health Forum: The founders of the Asian and Pacific Islander American Health Forum intended to improve the health of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Eventually, they also created initiatives for aspiring medical professionals. One such initiative is the Health Rising Leadership Institute, which advocates for members to lead in their professions and communities.

Scholarships for Undocumented Medical Assistant Students

The Dream.US National Scholarship
Amount: Up to $14,500 for an associate degree; Up to $29,000 for a bachelor’s degree
Deadline: March 1
Requirements: Applicants should be Dreamers, or undocumented students with DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) status. They must be high school seniors planning to attend college full-time, and enroll in one of the organization’s partner colleges. Recipients may renew the scholarship yearly as long as they maintain a 3.0 GPA.

Golden Doors Scholarship Fund
Amount: Varies
Deadline: Varies; Check website for updates
Requirements: Students should be undocumented or have DACA status. They must either be high school seniors or recent high school graduates. The organization gives preference to students who live in states where they must pay out-of-state tuition.

Que Llueva Café Scholarship
Amount: Varies
Deadline: Varies; Check website for updated deadline
Requirements: Students must be high school graduates or GED recipients who plan on attending college for the first time. The scholarship committee considers applicants’ personal stories, extracurricular activities, and academic promise.

Fulfilling Our Dreams Scholarship Fund
Amount: Varies
Deadline: June 15
Requirements: Applicants should be Latino/a and have earned a minimum 2.5 GPA. They must have a history of community involvement and live in the Los Angeles area. Recipients must complete community service hours once they are awarded the scholarship.

Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity Essay Scholarship Contest
Amount: $500 to $5,000
Deadline: Varies; Check website for updated information
Requirements: Applicants must be full-time juniors or seniors at accredited four-year higher education institutions. Applicants are not required to be U.S. citizens, but they should be enrolled in a U.S. college. The prompt for the essay changes each year. Be sure to find the updated prompt on the scholarship website.

Professional Organizations for Undocumented Students

  • United We Dream: The United We Dream group isn’t a traditional professional organization, but it functions as a network for undocumented people and DACA students. The group provides resources for students who plan to enroll in college or university, and lists advice for obtaining scholarships for minority medical students.
  • TheDream.US: TheDream.US is dedicated to sending undocumented students to college. Interested students can find several scholarships for minority medical students on the group’s site. The association also lists legal and educational resources online.
  • National Immigration Law Center: The National Immigration Law Center provides educational, legal, and financial resources for immigrants on its website, and advocates for undocumented immigrants.

Types of Funding Available for Medical Assistant Students

Scholarships

Scholarships for minority medical students serve those who want to pursue their degrees without incurring debt. Scholarships are typically merit-based, meaning applicants compete for the financial awards through academic achievement and extracurricular involvement. Most scholarships require a minimum GPA, reference letters, and essays from the students.

Several scholarship programs offer their awards to students in a specific discipline or from a particular minority background. Students who earn minority medical scholarships don’t need to repay them. Applying for multiple scholarships can be time-consuming, so interested students should start early.

Grants

Grants, like scholarships, do not need to be repaid. Unlike scholarships, most grants operate as need-based financial aid. Students or their families must earn an income below a certain threshold in order to be eligible for grants.

Minority grants may be ethnicity-specific, requiring applicants to come from a certain race, cultural group, or heritage. Non-ethnic grants give financial opportunities to people with other barriers, such as students who are physically disabled, or female applicants aiming to enter male-dominated industries.

Work Study

Work-study programs offer educational funding through jobs, ideally related to the receiving student’s area of study. A medical assistant student, for instance, may work as a receptionist in a university hospital. The student’s earnings go toward educational expenses.

Alternatively, off-campus nonprofits or public organizations may participate in the federal work-study program. Work-study programs may not cover the full cost of a student’s education.

Federal Student Loans

The U.S. Department of Education offers two student loan programs: the direct loan program and the Federal Perkins Loan Program. The latter is open for low-income undergraduate and graduate students who demonstrate financial need. In their case, the school takes on the role of the lender, and after graduating, borrowers must repay the full cost of the loan plus interest.

In the direct loan program, the U.S. Department of Education works as the lender. Students who demonstrate financial need may take out subsidized loans, in which the federal government pays back interest. All students, regardless of financial need, may borrow unsubsidized student loans. These loans require students to pay back what they borrowed in addition to interest.

Private Loans

Students may also take out private loans, though this option can be pricey. Banks and other financial institutions offer these loans, and usually at high interest rates. Private loans can also include enrollment or service fees. Many private loan programs require students to begin repayment immediately after borrowing, so borrowers should take care before signing a private loan agreement. They should also only take out private loans as a last resort.

Filing the FAFSA

All students, regardless of minority status or income, should fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA determines students’ eligibility for financial aid, including how much and what kind of aid they might pursue. U.S. citizens and certain eligible noncitizens may complete the FAFSA, but undocumented students cannot apply. The FAFSA’s filing deadline varies from year to year, but typically lands in June. Applicants should expect to provide a social security number (or alien registration number if not a U.S. citizen), federal income tax returns, W-2 forms, bank statements, and records of untaxed income.

Scholarship Application Tips

  1. Start Early: The earlier students start on their applications, the more scholarships they will find. They will also have more time to proofread and revise application essays. Some scholarship opportunities also recommendation letters, and writers will appreciate if applicants give them plenty of time to complete their recommendations.
  2. Get Personal: In application essays, students should share personal details that make their stories unique and compelling. For example, minority students often face uphill battles in their educational journeys. Sharing these experiences with scholarship selection committees will help their application stand out against the rest.
  3. Ask for Advice: Some scholarships list previous winners online. If so, current applicants should contact them to ask about application tips and tricks. Applicants might also turn to their parents, siblings, classmates, friends, teachers, librarians, or school counselors for assistance.
  4. Think Local and Small: Applicants shouldn’t neglect small or local scholarships, which typically attract fewer applicants. Students applying for these scholarships face less competition, and several modest scholarships can still add up to a considerable sum.
  5. Proofread: Applicants should leave enough time to proofread their essays before submitting them, and consider enlisting a fresh set of eyes to edit and make suggestions, as well. It helps to print out an essay and read it out loud to search for errors.

Additional Scholarship Resources for Medical Assistants

  • FAFSA Homepage: The FAFSA website hosts the online application, plus frequently asked questions, deadline information, and details on which students are eligible non-citizens. The website outlines various filing options, as well, so students know exactly for what they should apply.
  • Allied Health Medical Assistant Scholarships Page: All Allied Health Schools provide resources to people working or studying in administrative, support, therapeutic, and technological healthcare positions. The organization also provides a roundup of scholarships specifically for students pursuing medical assistant degrees.
  • American Association of Medical Assistants: This association gives professionals and students resources to aid in their careers and education. Students can access a career center, where they may find help with scholarship applications and resume writing.
  • Fastweb: The scholarship search engine Fastweb lists a wealth of awards on its website, including scholarships for minority medical students. Fastweb dedicates several pages to minority students.
  • National Immigration Law Center Access to Postsecondary Education Toolkit: The center’s website provides an Access to Postsecondary Education Toolkit, where students without legal status in the United States can find resources to help their journey to higher education. The toolkit includes information about state-specific education laws, and offers scholarship advice and financial aid information for undocumented students.