Education is a powerful tool that can help people overcome various challenges and achieve their goals. However, not everyone has equal access to quality education, especially those who come from disadvantaged backgrounds. Disadvantaged students may face financial, social, cultural, or physical barriers that prevent them from pursuing higher education or limit their choices of schools and programs.
Fortunately, there are many scholarships available for disadvantaged students who want to continue their education and improve their lives. These scholarships can help cover tuition, fees, books, living expenses, and other costs associated with attending college or university. Some of these scholarships are based on academic merit, while others are based on financial need, personal circumstances, or specific fields of study.
In this article, we will highlight some of the most generous and prestigious scholarships for disadvantaged students in 2023. These scholarships are open to students from various backgrounds and disciplines who demonstrate a strong commitment to their education and future careers. We will also provide some tips on how to apply for these scholarships and increase your chances of winning them.
Top 15 Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students in 2023
1. Horatio Alger National Scholarship
Deadline: March 15, 2023 (next year’s application will open on December 1, 2023)
Eligibility: High school junior; Commitment to pursuing a bachelor’s degree; Demonstrate a critical financial need ($55,00 or lower adjusted gross family income); Be involved in co-curricular and community service activities; Display integrity and perseverance in overcoming adversity; Maintain a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.0; Be a United States citizen.
Description: The Horatio Alger National Scholarship is one of the largest need-based scholarships in the country. It is awarded to 106 high school juniors who have faced and overcome great obstacles in their lives. The scholarship aims to support students who aspire to pursue higher education and contribute to society. The scholarship recipients also receive access to mentoring, career exploration, financial literacy, and alumni support services.
2. Gates Scholarship
Amount: Full cost of attendance
Deadline: September 15, 2023 (next year’s application will open on July 15, 2023)
Eligibility: High school senior; African American, American Indian/Alaska Native*, Asian & Pacific Islander American**, or Hispanic American; Pell-eligible; US citizen, national, or permanent resident; Minimum cumulative weighted GPA of 3.3 on a 4.0 scale (or equivalent); Plan to enroll full-time in a four-year degree program at a US accredited, not-for-profit, private or public college or university.
Description: The Gates Scholarship is a highly selective, last-dollar scholarship for outstanding minority students from low-income backgrounds. It covers the remaining cost of attendance that is not already covered by other financial aid and the expected family contribution. The scholarship also provides academic support, leadership development, mentoring, career guidance, and wellness resources to help scholars excel in college and beyond.
3. Jack Kent Cooke Foundation College Scholarship Program
Amount: Up to $40,000 per year
Deadline: November 13, 2023 (next year’s application will open on September 1, 2023)
Eligibility: High school senior; Plan to graduate from a US high school in spring 2023; Intend to enroll in an accredited four-year college beginning in fall 2023; Earn a cumulative unweighted GPA of 3.5 or above; Receive standardized test scores of either an SAT Total Score of 1200 and above OR an ACT Composite Score of 26 or above (students who are unable to take standardized tests due to COVID-19 are still eligible); Demonstrate unmet financial need (annual income up to $95,000).
Description: The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation College Scholarship Program is one of the most competitive and generous undergraduate scholarships in the nation. It awards up to $40,000 per year for four years of undergraduate study at any accredited college or university. The scholarship also provides comprehensive educational advising, opportunities for internships and study abroad, access to graduate school funding, and a thriving network of nearly 2,800 fellow Cooke Scholars and alumni.
4. Dell Scholars Program
Amount: $20,000 plus laptop and other resources
Deadline: December 1, 2023
Eligibility: High school senior; Participating in a Michael & Susan Dell Foundation approved college readiness program in grades 11 and 12; Graduating from an accredited high school this academic year; Earning a minimum of a 2.4 GPA; Demonstrated need for financial assistance; Eligible to receive a federal Pell grant in the first year of college; Planning to enroll full-time in a bachelor’s degree program at an accredited higher education institution in the fall directly after your graduation from high school.
Description: The Dell Scholars Program is a college completion program that provides students with the support they need to overcome barriers to higher education. The program awards $20,000 in scholarships to 500 students each year, as well as a laptop, textbook credits, and access to academic, financial, and emotional support services. The program also connects scholars with a network of peers, mentors, and alumni who can offer guidance and encouragement throughout their college journey.
5. Coca-Cola Scholars Program
Deadline: October 31, 2023
Eligibility: High school senior; US citizen, US national, US permanent resident, refugee, asylee, Cuban-Haitian entrant, or humanitarian parolee; Planning to pursue a degree at an accredited US post-secondary institution; Carrying a minimum 3.0 GPA at the end of their junior year of high school.
Description: The Coca-Cola Scholars Program is a merit-based scholarship that recognizes students who have demonstrated leadership, service, and academic excellence. The program awards 150 scholarships of $20,000 each to high school seniors who are planning to attend college in the fall. The program also provides scholars with opportunities for personal and professional development, networking, and lifelong friendships.
6. Ron Brown Scholar Program
Amount: $40,000 ($10,000 per year for four years)
Deadline: January 9, 2023
Eligibility: High school senior; Black/African American; US citizen or permanent resident; Excel academically; Exhibit exceptional leadership potential; Participate in community service activities; Demonstrate financial need.
Description: The Ron Brown Scholar Program is a leadership development program that supports African American students who aspire to make significant contributions to society. The program awards 20 or more scholarships of $40,000 each to high school seniors who demonstrate academic achievement, civic engagement, and financial need. The program also provides scholars with mentoring, service opportunities, internships, and access to a network of Ron Brown Scholars and alumni.
7. Quest Bridge National College Match
Amount: Full four-year scholarship
Deadline: September 28, 2023 (next year’s application will open on August 1, 2023)
Eligibility: High school senior; US citizen or permanent resident (or have DACA status); Household income of less than $65,000 annually (for a typical family of four) with minimal assets; Academic achievement that matches or exceeds the admissions standards of Quest Bridge partner colleges.
Description: The Quest Bridge National College Match is a college admission and scholarship program that connects high-achieving low-income students with full four-year scholarships to the nation’s top colleges. The program allows students to rank up to 12 partner colleges and apply for early admission and financial aid. If matched with a partner college, students receive a full scholarship that covers tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, and travel expenses. If not matched, students can still apply to partner colleges through Quest Bridge Regular Decision.
8. APIA Scholarship Program
Amount: Up to $20,000
Deadline: January 14, 2023
Eligibility: Be of Asian and/or Pacific Islander ethnicity as defined by the U.S. Census; Be a citizen, national, or legal permanent resident of the United States or a citizen of the U.S. Freely Associated States; Be enrolling as an undergraduate student in a U.S. accredited college or university in the fall of 2023; Have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.7 on a 4.0 scale (unweighted) or have earned a GED; Must apply for federal financial aid for the 2023-2024 academic year using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by early April 2023; Submit one letter of recommendation online.
Description: The APIA Scholarship Program is a comprehensive scholarship program that supports Asian American and Pacific Islander (APIA) students who have limited access to higher education and resources. The program awards scholarships ranging from one-time $2,500 awards to multi-year $20,000 awards based on financial need and academic merit. The program also provides scholars with access to mentoring, leadership development, community service, and professional networking opportunities.
9. Hispanic Scholarship Fund
Amount: $500 to $5,000
Deadline: February 15, 2023
Eligibility: Must be of Hispanic heritage; Minimum of 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale (or equivalent) for high school students; Minimum of 2.5 GPA on a 4.0 scale (or equivalent) for undergraduate and graduate students; Plan to enroll full-time in an accredited, not-for-profit, four-year university, or graduate school, during the fall of a scholarship cycle (year); US citizen, permanent legal resident, DACA or eligible non-citizen (as defined by FAFSA); Complete FAFSA or state based financial aid application (if applicable).
Description: The Hispanic Scholarship Fund is the nation’s largest provider of college financial aid for Latino students. The program awards scholarships ranging from $500 to $5,000 based on merit and financial need. The program also provides scholars with access to career services, leadership development, wellness resources, and a network of more than 100,000 alumni.
10. American Indian Graduate Center Undergraduate Scholarship
Deadline: June 1, 2023
Eligibility: Be an enrolled member of a federally recognized American Indian tribe or Alaska Native group OR provide documentation of ancestry to possession of one-fourth degree Indian blood of a federally recognized tribe; Be enrolled full-time in an accredited college or university in the United States; Be pursuing an associate’s or bachelor’s degree as an undergraduate student; Demonstrate financial need through submission of the AIGC Financial Need Form (FNF).
Description: The American Indian Graduate Center Undergraduate Scholarship is a need-based scholarship that supports American Indian and Alaska Native students who are pursuing undergraduate degrees in any field of study. The scholarship amount varies depending on the availability of funds and the number of applicants. The scholarship also provides scholars with access to academic support, career guidance, and cultural preservation resources.
11. UNCF Scholarships
Eligibility: Varies depending on the scholarship program
Description: The United Negro College Fund (UNCF) is the nation’s largest and most effective minority education organization. The organization administers more than 400 scholarship, fellowship, and internship programs that support African American students at various stages of their education. The scholarship programs have different eligibility criteria, application requirements, and deadlines. Some of the scholarships are open to students attending any accredited college or university, while others are restricted to students attending UNCF-member institutions or specific schools.
12. Point Foundation Scholarship
Deadline: January 25, 2023
Eligibility: Must be enrolled or intending to enroll at an accredited college or university based in the United States, including Hawaii and Alaska, in the fall of 2023; Must be “out” as a person who identifies as a member of the LGBTQ community; Must be working for the betterment of the LGBTQ community; Must demonstrate significant financial need.
Description: The Point Foundation Scholarship is the nation’s largest scholarship-granting organization for LGBTQ students of merit. The scholarship amount varies depending on the scholar’s financial need and the availability of funds. The scholarship also provides scholars with access to mentoring, leadership development, community service, and networking opportunities.
13. APIA Scholarship for PCA Partner Schools
Deadline: August 31, 2023
Eligibility: Be of Asian and/or Pacific Islander ethnicity as defined by the U.S. Census; Be a citizen, national, or legal permanent resident of the United States or a citizen of the U.S. Freely Associated States; Be enrolled full-time in an accredited PCA partner school in the fall of 2023; Have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.7 on a 4.0 scale (unweighted) or have earned a GED; Must apply for federal financial aid for the 2023-2024 academic year using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by early April 2023; Submit one letter of recommendation online.
Description: The APIA Scholarship for PCA Partner Schools is a scholarship program that supports Asian American and Pacific Islander (APIA) students who are pursuing careers in esthetics. The scholarship is funded by Beauty Changes Lives, an organization focused on empowering the next generation of beauty professionals. The scholarship is open to students who are enrolled full-time in an accredited PCA partner school, which are institutions that offer advanced education in skin health and esthetics.
14. Charmaine Letourneau Scholarships
Amount: $2,000 to $5,000
Deadline: August 31, 2023
Eligibility: Be a Deaf or Hard of Hearing individual who plans to pursue an academic or vocational program at a qualified institution; Be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident; Demonstrate academic excellence, community involvement, and personal qualities; Submit an essay, a transcript, and two letters of reference.
Description: The Charmaine Letourneau Scholarship is a prestigious award given annually to a Deaf or Hard of Hearing individual who plans to pursue post-secondary education in Canada. The scholarship is funded by the Learning Disability Resources Foundation, an organization that strives to create, discover and stimulate innovative educational opportunities for individuals with learning disabilities. The scholarship amount ranges from $2,000 to $5,000 depending on the level and duration of the program.
15. Martin Frank Diversity Travel Award
Amount: Up to $1,500
Deadline: July 14, 2023
Eligibility: Be a member of an underrepresented minority group in the physiological sciences (African American, Hispanic American, Native American, Alaskan Native, or Pacific Islander); Be enrolled in a degree-granting program at the undergraduate, graduate, or postdoctoral level; Be a member of the American Physiological Society (APS); Submit an abstract for presentation at the APS annual meeting.
Description: The Martin Frank Diversity Travel Award is a travel grant that supports underrepresented minority students and early career scientists who are attending and presenting their research at the APS annual meeting. The award is funded by the APS and named after its former executive director. The award covers up to $1,500 of travel expenses, as well as registration fees and a one-year complimentary APS membership.
What You Should Know
These are just some of the many scholarships for disadvantaged students that are available in 2023. These scholarships can help you achieve your educational and career goals without worrying about the financial burden. However, these scholarships are also very competitive and require you to meet certain criteria and deadlines. Therefore, it is important to start your research and application process early and carefully.
To increase your chances of winning these scholarships, you should also:
- Maintain a high GPA and test scores
- Participate in extracurricular and community service activities
- Demonstrate leadership, resilience, and passion
- Write a compelling personal statement and essay
- Ask for strong letters of recommendation
- Apply for multiple scholarships that match your profile and interests
We hope this article has inspired you to pursue your dreams and apply for these scholarships. Remember, you have the potential to make a positive difference in the world with your education.