Scholarships for Underrepresented Groups at Online Colleges: A Guide for Diversity & Inclusion

scholarships for diversity

The Importance of Scholarships for Underrepresented Groups

Diversity in higher education is very important today. This is especially true as everything becomes globalized. Diversity can provide a better learning experience, helping students develop cultural competence. Scholarships for underrepresented groups are great for allowing all students achieve their affordable education goals.

Universities worldwide, including top institutions, have historically lacked representation from minority groups. Progress has been made, but more action is needed to address these disparities in higher education access. Women, to some extent, can also be underrepresented in certain fields or at certain academic levels.

Online colleges have played a major part in diversity and inclusion within US institutions. These efforts break down geographical barriers. They aim to offer flexible learning options, opening doors for individuals from various backgrounds to pursue higher education.

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To further attract more underrepresented/minority students, institutions have also offered scholarships for underrepresented groups. These scholarships aim to address systemic inequalities in accessing traditional institutions.

The combination of flexible learning and diversity scholarships for online colleges has made earning a degree easier and more accessible. In this guide, we highlight the importance and the availability of scholarships for minority students.

Why Scholarships for Underrepresented Groups Matter

Diversity is key in education. It brings together people from different backgrounds, viewpoints, and experiences. It makes learning richer and more inclusive. It’s an effective weapon for promoting social cohesiveness and tearing down structural injustices.

One of the ways in which institutions show their emphasis on diversity and inclusion is by providing scholarships for minorities. These help students from backgrounds without as much opportunity to get into higher education.

These groups include the underrepresented:

  • racial
  • ethnic
  • gender
  • socioeconomic
  • other marginalized backgrounds, such as disability

Here’s a breakdown of the importance of scholarship opportunities for minority students.

To provide access to higher education

One of the primary goals of diversity scholarships is to expand access to higher education. Historically, certain groups have faced systemic barriers that limited their access to quality education. Diversity scholarships aim to level the playing field, ensuring that everyone, regardless of their background, gets the opportunity to pursue higher education.

To foster academic achievement

Scholarship recipients are more likely to concentrate on their academics and achieve academic success. This may result in higher graduation rates and better job outcomes for students.

To give a sense of belonging

When students from diverse backgrounds see others like them at school, it makes them feel like they belong and can motivate others to pursue higher education, too.

To promote inclusive learning environments

Scholarships contribute to the creation of inclusive learning environments. Benefits of these types of environments include:

  • enhanced discussions
  • broader perspective
  • increased empathy and understanding among students

The most popular types of scholarships for underrepresented groups include:

  • Scholarships for minority students
  • Women in STEM scholarships
  • Scholarships for students with disabilities

Types of Scholarships Available

Scholarships for Minority Students

Understanding the challenges that underrepresented groups face in colleges and universities is crucial. Who are these students? What hurdles do they encounter in their higher education journey?

Minority students encompass individuals from marginalized racial and ethnic groups, including but not limited to

  • Black
  • Hispanic
  • Native American
  • Asian American students, among others.

Each group brings its unique cultural perspectives, traditions, and histories to the educational landscape. Yet, despite the diversity within minority communities, they often face common challenges in higher education. These challenges include:

  • Access and Affordability
  • Cultural and Linguistic Barriers
  • Representation and Support
  • Stereotypes and Bias

Here are some common types of scholarships available:

  • Diversity Scholarships: open to students from a variety of minority backgrounds.
  • First-Generation Scholarships: for students whose parents did not attend college.
  • Ethnic-Specific Scholarships: targeted towards students belonging to specific racial or ethnic groups. These include
    • African AmericansNative AmericansAsian AmericansHispanic/Latino
    • Pacific Islanders and members of other racial and ethnic minorities

To support and encourage more students from minority groups to pursue higher education, a variety of scholarships have been established. These scholarship programs cater to different needs and eligibility criteria. Some focus on financial need, while others prioritize specific minority groups or first-generation college students. The requirements can span from general academic achievement to specific fields of study or industry interests.

Here are some of the most popular scholarships for minority students:

There are also many online education scholarships for minority students found in individual colleges and universities. Some scholarships for online degrees in institutions do not require students to submit additional requirements other than the FAFSA completion.

Women in STEM Scholarships

It’s no surprise that women remain outnumbered in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. According to the Labor Statistics data, only 1 in 4 individuals in computer and mathematical jobs, and 1 in 6 in engineering and architecture careers, are females.

Moreover, women in STEM earn significantly less than their male counterparts. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, every dollar a man earns translates to 14 cents less for a woman.

Women in STEM also face stereotypes and biases that undermine their abilities and contributions. Due to lack of representation and the stigma, women are also less likely to pursue a STEM degree. According to the Society of Women Engineers, women hold only 20% of engineering and computer science bachelor’s degrees.

To address this gender gap, many companies and organizations have established specialized scholarships. Some of the most notable scholarships for online schooling include:

Palantir Women in Technology Scholarship $7,000Female students majoring in computer science, software engineering, or related fields
MPOWER Women in STEM ScholarshipGrand Prize: $6,000 Runner-Up: $2,000 Honorable Mention: $1,000Female international/DACA students enrolled in STEM degrees.
LogicMonitor Women in STEM Scholarship$6,000Female college students majoring in a STEM subject
Zonta International Women in STEM Scholarship$5,000College sophomores and beyond, including graduate students
Women at Microsoft ScholarshipUp to $5,000Women and nonbinary students pursuing careers in STEM fields
Women in Technology Scholarship$2,500Women going into computer science or a related field
ITWomen Scholarship Program$8,000 four-year renewable scholarshipSouth Florida high school seniors majoring in information technology or engineering

You can also find many women in STEM online college scholarships at local communities and individual organizations. However, scholarships for online students in this category may be competitive. Providers want to secure their money’s worth. To increase your chances of winning online degree scholarships, you should:

  1. Double-check the eligibility requirements of each scholarship
  2. Apply early
  3. Apply to as many scholarships as you can
  4. Make sure your essay clearly highlights your academic achievement within the field
  5. Obtain strong letters of recommendation

Scholarships for Students with Disabilities

There are over 61 million people in the US with disabilities, which can be physical or learning-related. Sadly, according to the US Census Bureau, these students complete bachelor’s degrees at less than half the rate of those without disabilities. Money plays a big role here.

The US Department of Labor found that people with disabilities over 16 years old struggle to find jobs at just one-third of the national rate. This leads to financial strain, lower educational achievements, and more spending on medical needs, increasing the risk of poverty. Institutions and organizations have created funds to give these students a fair shot at life.

Here are some of the top scholarships from private organizations for students with disabilities.

Google Lime Scholarship

This scholarship is for disabled students who want to pursue a degree in computer science. The chosen students will receive $10,000 for the academic year.

Microsoft Disability Scholarship

Students passionate about technology in high school may apply for a Microsoft Disability Scholarship. Recipients will receive up to $5,000 for four consecutive years.

Allegra Ford Thomas Scholarship

This is open to students with ADHD or other learning disabilities. Applicants must be enrolled in technical or community colleges.

AAHD Frederick J. Krause Scholarship on Health and Disability

Students with any type of disability can apply for this scholarship program. Recipients can receive up to $1,000 annually.

National Federation of the Blind Scholarship

This is one of the biggest college scholarships for the legally blind. The NFB awards more than $250,000 in cash and prizes annually.

Students with disabilities are often granted easier access to an online scholarship than other underrepresented students. Online colleges and universities are more than willing to help students with disabilities navigate the scholarship application process.

Conclusion: The Path to an Inclusive and Diverse Education

More institutions and organizations are noticing that colleges need to be more diverse and inclusive. This means everyone today gets a fair chance to grab a scholarship for online college. As an underrepresented student, you now have access to several scholarship programs.