Undergraduate HBCU Scholarships Guide

Historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) have existed since the 1800s, when many were the only institutions to accept Black students.

Still a vital part of higher education, bachelor’s HBCU programs are known for creating inclusive, affirming environments for Black students, and offer scholarships to make education more accessible.

Average HBCU Tuition for a Bachelor’s Degree

Like any college, HBCU degree tuition will vary depending on the university offering the degree and the state where it’s located. For some, that cost can be high. When considering the cost of going to college, especially if the university is in a different state, prospective students may want to factor in any additional fees for out-of-state tuition as well as the cost of living, or moving to a new community or college town.

A complete list of HBCUs that offer undergraduate degrees, organized by the cost of tuition, can be found by visiting Student Loan Hero.

Grants for HBCU Degree Students

HBCU degree grants are a type of federal financial assistance that does not have to be repaid. Grants for HBCU students vary in qualifications and financial amount; a number of them are listed on the U.S. Department of Education’s site.

  • UNCF Emergency Retention Grant
    • Financial assistance for HBCU students at risk of dropping out of college due to an emergency.
    • Award: Up to $1,000.
  • Pell Grant
    • Needs-based financial assistance for undergraduate students with exceptional financial need.
    • Award: Up to $6,495.

Undergraduate Scholarships for Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Scholarships for HBCU students are offered by many universities, nonprofit organizations and small businesses that hope to support prospective students by making tuition more accessible.

  • Go On Girl’s Aspiring Writer Scholarship: Award for women of color enrolled in their first, second or third year at an HBCU with an interest in the literary pursuits of people of African descent.
    • Award: $2,000.

  • Blacks at Microsoft Scholarship: Scholarships for Black high school students with a passion for technology and plans to attend a four-year college or university to pursue a degree in engineering, computer science, computer information systems or select business programs.
    • Award: $20,000.

  • 100 Black Men National Scholarship Program: Award for mentees of the 100 Black Men program or affiliates who are high school seniors or enrolled at an accredited university, to be applied to tuition, room and board and books.
    • Award: $1,000 to $5,000.

  • Olay Face the Stem Gap Scholarship: Award for women of color enrolled as second-year students at an accredited university studying in a degree program for science, technology, engineering or mathematics.
    • Award: $2,500.

For more undergraduate HBCU scholarships, visit any of the following sites for aggregated lists, including award amounts, application deadlines and more.

How to Choose the Best HBCU Scholarship for You

While every student is unique, scholarship eligibility requirements are crucial for students to qualify for financial assistance and awards. In many cases, students can apply for multiple scholarships, depending on the university they want to attend and how much assistance they may need to pay for tuition.

Some scholarships may be awarded for need-based or merit-based reasons, and others may be offered based on students’ life experiences, academic achievements or educational aspirations.

Students and their families may want to research which scholarships they may qualify for and get advice from counselors, alumni or admissions officers about how and when to apply for scholarships.

A school counselor, educator or administrator may be able to help students take an inventory of their GPA, extracurricular activities, career aspirations and academic goals to identify the best HBCU scholarships or grants for their circumstances.

Avoid Scholarship Scams

Students and their families should be cautious of scholarship scammers: online predators who design false applications for scholarships that don’t exist to prey on vulnerable applicants and obtain their personal financial information. Sharing financial information can lead to identity theft, financial fraud and other harmful outcomes that may affect a student’s ability to pay for tuition.

Because many verified scholarships have online applications, some scholarship scams may be difficult to identify. When navigating the web, students may benefit from consulting their parents, school counselors or other trusted advisers before they submit applications. Here are some steps you can take as you search for scholarship opportunities.

6 Tips for Avoiding a Scholarship Scam

  • Verify the organization or website that is offering the scholarship.
  • Check the URL of the website to ensure a secure internet connection.
  • Avoid giving away personal information such as Social Security numbers, bank account or credit card information to unofficial organizations.
  • Ask a parent or guardian before submitting personal financial information.
  • Keep records of correspondence (emails, letters, phone calls) with individuals who ask for your personal information in the case of identity theft.

The Federal Trade Commission provides more information and tips on how to avoid scholarship scams.

HBCU Bachelor’s Degree Scholarship FAQs

Applying for college can be stressful, and factoring in additional applications for scholarships and grants can make the process even more complicated. There’s lots to keep track of and understand for high school students navigating the world of colleges and universities for the first time. Students may seek out online resources or consult with a school counselor for HBCU scholarship frequently asked questions.

How Early Should You Begin to Apply for Scholarships?

Scholarship deadlines may vary depending on the university or organization offering the scholarship, or the type of enrollment, such as early decision applications. The Department of Education recommends students begin researching and applying for scholarships during their senior year of high school to ensure enough time for making decisions about attending college.

Students may take note of the deadlines listed by organizations and apply as early as possible in case there is an early decision window to take advantage of.

What Makes an Effective HBCU Scholarship Application?

Requirements may vary by the university or organization offering the scholarship, so students should be sure to read the entire application before beginning. It may be beneficial to have a school counselor, teacher or school administrator help by reading over the completed scholarship application to make sure you didn’t leave out any required materials. Organizations may not accept incomplete applications or notify applicants of missing or incomplete information.

What Makes a Good HBCU Scholarship Essay?

Some scholarships may ask for a personal statement, while others may offer specific writing prompts for applicants to answer. No matter the topic, an essay for scholarship applications is truthful and effective at capturing the essence of who you are, according to Purdue Owl’s scholarship essay guidelines.

If you’re unsure where to start, you may consult your school counselor, English language teachers or previous scholarship awardees for advice and reviews of scholarship essays.

Do You Need a Letter of Recommendation for Scholarship Applications?

Some scholarships may require one or more recommendations from a teacher, mentor, employer or other professional who can vouch for your qualifications and eligibility. Be sure to read the full instructions on the application and check with your school counselor for additional information or advice.

Last updated July 2021.