College is an exciting but harrowing time for most college students, and that can be especially true for prospective college students who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, or queer (LGBTQ). In many cases, LGBTQ+ students face hurdles that other college students don’t often face. And, one of the largest challenges for LGBTQ+ students stems from trying to obtain financial support for college.
According to a survey by Student Loan Hero, 40% of LGBTQ+ student loan borrowers said they have been denied financial help due to their sexual orientation. While that is both inexcusable and frustrating, the good news is that there are alternative channels for finding funding. If you’re an LGBTQ+ student who is trying to find the money to pay for higher education, pursuing scholarship opportunities that are specific to the LGBTQ+ community can help increase your chances of securing funding.
Many universities, foundations, and organizations offer scholarships specifically for students who identify as LGBTQ+. In general, students have a better chance of scoring a scholarship if they apply for funds that are earmarked for specific communities or demographics that they’re a part of. Many scholarships may ask for evidence of your participation in that community, as well as academic excellence. There are also many state-specific or city-specific scholarships for students who reside there. We’ll outline some popular scholarships below and direct you to resources to help you fund your education as an LGBTQ+ student.
Featured Online Programs
Figuring out where to apply? These top, accredited schools offer a variety of online degrees. Consider one of these accredited programs.
The Best LGBTQ+ College Scholarship Options
Davis-Putter Scholarship Fund
This scholarship is worth up to $15,000 for graduate and undergraduate students. It’s a need-based fund, which means the amount can vary depending on your situation — you’ll need to demonstrate that need with a FAFSA or SAR and your living expenses for one year.
Applicants must be active in the progressive movement and social justice. Specifically, the foundation says students must have participated in activities in the U.S. related to combating oppression. The deadline for application is April 1st.
The Felice Samuel Greene Scholarship Fund & Tate Renegade Thorson Memorial Scholarship Fund
This scholarship is geared toward youth who would otherwise be unable to afford college tuition, books and related expenses. Eligible education includes college and university degrees, as well as an accredited training program.
Applicants must have a 2.5 GPA, demonstrated passion for community involvement, and two letters of recommendation. Amount will vary.
Joan Nestle Prize
The Joan Nestle Prize is an undergraduate scholarship awarded for an outstanding paper written on the LGBTQ+ community’s history. The deadline is October 2023 and the prize amount is undisclosed.
Titles for the paper’s from past winners include, “Creating ‘A Beautiful Place to Die’: The History of Lesbian Clergy During the AIDS Epidemic,” “Developing a Transcartohistoriography,” “Culture War in the ‘hate state’: ACT UP/Denver before and after Amendment 2,” and “Female Warriors and Victims of Circumstance: Male Impersonators in Early American Print Culture.”
The Point Scholarship is earmarked for LGBTQ students who are working toward either an undergraduate or graduate degree. The amount awarded and the evaluation process is based on the totality of the students’ need and situation.
If chosen for the scholarship, the Point Foundation will give an amount that fills the gaps not attained by other scholarships, grants, loans, or work-study programs. Scholars are expected to secure as much funding as possible. The panel will look at financial need, academic achievement, proven track record of leadership and community involvement, and evidence of working for the betterment of the LGBTQ community.
To be eligible, the foundation does say that applicants, “must be ‘out’ as a person who identifies as a member of the LGBTQ community.” The application opens at the beginning of November and the deadline is in January.
Asian and Pacific Islander Queer Sisters (APIQS) Scholarship
This is a scholarship from the Pride Foundation for Asian/Pacific Islander lesbians, bisexual females, and trans students who reside in the Northwest region. Students do not need to be U.S. citizens, but must prove financial need and difficulty completing education. Scholarship opens in October.
Daniella Altfeld-Moreno Scholarship
This scholarship is earmarked for Latino/Latina LGBTQ youth. Applicants must be under age 25 and the scholarship has a preference for students involved in athletics. This scholarship is awarded from the Pride Foundation, whose goal is to provide scholarships to students who face big obstacles to completing their education. Scholarship opens in October and the amount of the award varies.
Thelma Fisher Dewitty Scholarship
This scholarship is awarded from the Pride Foundation, whose scholarships support students facing barriers to completing a degree. It is earmarked for current and future African-American LGBTQ+ leaders and role models. Applicants do not need to be a US citizen, but must reside in the Northwest region. Scholarship opens in October and the amount of the award varies.
Little Bird Scholarship for LGBTQI Immigrants
The Little Bird Scholarship awards $18,000 for the last two years of school for undergraduate students who are LGBTQ or intersex and undocumented immigrants (including refugees and those granted or seeking asylum.) Applicants must be enrolled in a school in New York City, and the deadline is June 15th.
Traub-Dicker Rainbow Scholarship
The Traub-Dicker Rainbow Scholarship from the Stonewall Community Foundation awards $1,500-$3,000 to applicants who are lesbian women graduating high school or already enrolled in college. Candidates are chosen based on academic achievement, commitment to impacting LGBTQ issues, and leadership and community service record.
Gamma Mu Foundation
The Gamma Mu Foundation awards between $1,000-$2,5000 to gay males under 35 who are pursuing a degree. The application is due March 31 and is typically awarded to applicants who can demonstrate financial need. The goal of the Gamma Mu Foundation is to help support young people overcome barriers to getting their degree. Students will need to supply a photo if awarded the scholarship, and will be featured in the annual report for the foundation.
Tips For Winning a Scholarship: How You Can Improve Your Chances
About 63% of all undergraduates receive at least one grant or scholarship. The more scholarships you apply for, the better your chances are of being awarded a scholarship or grant. That said, there are a few universal eligibility criteria that evaluators look for when choosing applicants. You can use these criteria to help target the right scholarships and optimize your application.
These typical criteria include:
Some scholarships have GPA requirements to be eligible. A good GPA and impressive transcripts are signs to a scholarship fund that they are investing in a successful future and serious student. However, funders typically look at all factors included with your application, and will likely consider other factors that demonstrate excellence and that may have impacted your grades.
References/letters of recommendation
Developing relationships with teachers and mentors that can speak to your achievements and character can be important for personal development and future opportunities. Many scholarships ask for letters of recommendation from people who can speak to your contributions to your community.
Most scholarships ask for an essay or personal statement to be included with your application. You may be asked to describe your passion and what you plan to pursue with your degree, or describe the obstacles you face in pursuing those dreams. Practice writing about yourself, your dreams, and your journey. Have several people review your essay before submitting it.
Quite a few LGBTQ scholarships will ask for evidence of your participation or activism in the community. If you’re passionate about it, join or start clubs at your school and look for memberships with organizations you follow.
Other Resources For LGBTQ+ College Students
Data shows that about 87% of students who receive scholarships receive one from their college — so be sure to start your scholarship search at your school if you’re already enrolled or accepted.
There are also many organizations and foundations that support LGBTQ students — whether financially or with other resources and community connection. These include: