Public health is a growing field, with related occupations such as health educator, epidemiologist, and environmental scientist expected to grow in the coming years. Efforts to increase diversity in health professions for all Americans may increase the number of minority students interested in pursuing careers in public health. For minority students pursuing public health degrees at the undergraduate and graduate level, financing may be a concern.
The underrepresentation of minority students in higher education and public health, however, has increased the availability of financial aid and public health scholarships for minorities.
Many scholarships for minority students are open to students in any major, while there are several specific to public health majors. Professional organizations for public health minority students have useful resources related to scholarships, internships, policy, research, and job opportunities.
Scholarships for African American Public Health Students
- The Agnes Jones Jackson Scholarship
- Amount: Maximum $2,000
- Deadline: April 28
Awarded to a current member of the NAACP, this scholarship is open to undergraduate and graduate students, as well as high school graduates. Applicants must be under 25 years old, demonstrate financial need, and be accepted to or enrolled in an accredited college. Graduating high school seniors and undergraduate students must be full-time students with a minimum 2.5 GPA, while graduate students can be enrolled full or part time and must have a minimum 3.0 GPA. 20-40 scholarships are available.
- The Ron Brown Scholarship
- Amount: $10,000 per year for four years
- Deadline: January 9
Open to graduating high school seniors, this scholarship is awarded to African-American students who excel academically, exhibit leadership skills, and participate in community service. High school students must demonstrate an interest in public service, community engagement, business entrepreneurship, and global citizenship.
- The Jackie Robinson Foundation
- Amount: Up to $30,000 over four years
- Deadline: February 1
Open to all minorities, applicants to this scholarship must be graduating high school seniors planning to attend an accredited four-year college or university. Applicants must demonstrate leadership skills and a commitment to community service. Applicants must have earned a combined SAT math and verbal score of 1000 or an ACT score of 21.
- Albert W. Dent Graduate Student Scholarship
- Amount: $5,000
- Deadline: March 31
This award is open to minority students in their last year of a graduate program in healthcare management. Applicants must be full-time students with demonstrated financial need who are U.S. or Canadian citizens. Doctoral students and learners already in their residency are not eligible. Doctoral students and students completing residency are not eligible.
- Mae and Mary Scholarship Fund
- Amount: Varies
- Deadline: April 30
This scholarship is open to African-American students pursuing healthcare careers. Students must be graduating high school seniors planning to attend a two- or four-year college or technical institution. Scholarship funds must be used for tuition, fees, books, or other college-related expenses.
Professional Organizations for African American Students
- American Public Health Association – Black Caucus of Health Workers: The Caucus is an entry point into APHA for African-American public health professionals. It provides programs focused on public health issues related to people of color in the United States, such as poverty and access to healthcare.
- National Association of Health Services Executives: NAHSE, founded in 1968, is a black healthcare executives association focused on improving the quality of healthcare services available to underserved communities and minorities. Student member can enjoy benefits such as conferences, networking, and the Young Healthcare Professionals Forum.
- Black Mental Health Alliance for Education and Consultation, Inc.: BMHA’s mission is to promote a culturally relevant approach to developing health programs and services for at-risk communities. BMHA provides patient referrals to members and educational events and trainings. Membership benefits include professional development and continuing education opportunities.
Scholarships for Hispanic and Latino Public Health Students
- HSF Scholarship
- Amount: $500 to $5,000
- Deadline: April 2
Open to high school students, undergraduates, and graduate students, these public health scholarships for minorities are based on merit and need. To be eligible, applicants must be of Hispanic heritage and complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Applicants must plan to enter full-time study at an accredited institution during the fall of the academic year. Open to students in all majors, the HSF scholarship emphasizes STEM majors.
- Royal Prestige Scholarship
- Amount: $2,500
- Deadline: April 2
Open to Royal Prestige customers, distributors, and their dependents, this scholarship requires applicants to be enrolled full time in a college or university during the fall of the academic year. High school seniors, undergraduates, and graduate students with a minimum 3.0 GPA and who are of Hispanic heritage may apply. Requirements vary between class level.
- Hispanic Heritage Youth Award
- Amount: Varies
- Deadline: October 15
Applicants must be of Hispanic heritage and graduating from high school the spring following the scholarship deadline. They must have a 3.0 GPA and plan to enroll in an accredited college or university. These public health scholarships for minorities honor Latino students for excelling in multiple categories, including business, education, community service, technology, and healthcare and science.
- National Hispanic Health Professional Student Scholarship
- Amount: Varies
- Deadline: October 1
Applicants to this scholarship must be full-time graduate students in an accredited health-related program such as dentistry, medicine, pharmacy, health policy, nursing, or public health. The National Hispanic Health Foundation generally awards 15-20 public health scholarships for minorities each year.
- Latino Resources Scholarship Fund
- Amount: $500 – $2,000
- Deadline: May 31
Awarded to Latino students displaying academic excellence, community engagement, financial need, and leadership, this scholarship application requires college enrollment verification, an essay, transcripts, a resume, and a photo. Students must also submit their FAFSA report, and high school seniors must submit standardized test scores. High school seniors must submit SAT or ACT scores.
Professional Organizations for Hispanic and Latino Students
- National Hispanic Health Foundation: NHHF focuses on improving the health of underserved communities and Hispanics. The organization supports current and future researchers and diversity in the healthcare workforce. Sponsored by NHHF, the Hispanic Health Professional Student Scholarship has awarded over $800,000 since its establishment in 2004.
- Association of Hispanic Healthcare Executives: The AHHE works to increase the Hispanic community’s access to healthcare, opportunities for Hispanic healthcare leadership, and provide professional development opportunities. Students can join for $25, and membership includes access to mentorship opportunities, local AHHE networking events, and job listings.
- American Public Health Association – Latino Caucus for Public Health: Founded in 1973, this caucus within the APHA advocates for the Latino community’s health interests and provides leadership opportunities for young public health professionals. Students can join for a discounted membership rate to receive updates about scholarships, job opportunities, paid internships, publications, and professional events.
Scholarships for Native American Public Health Students
- Indian Health Service Scholarship Program
- Amount: Tuition, fees, living expenses
- Deadline: March 28
IHS offers three public health scholarships for minorities, specifically American Indian and Alaskan Native students. Scholarships are available for undergraduate or graduate students with a minimum 2.0 GPA. Undergraduate students must be members or a descendent of a recognized or terminated tribe or village. The health professions scholarship requires applicants to be a member of a recognized tribe or village. The health professions scholarship requires a two-year service commitment to work at an Indian healthcare facility.
- American Indian College Fund
- Amount: Varies
- Deadline: May 31
Available to graduate and undergraduate students attending either tribal or mainstream colleges, these scholarships require students to be a member or descendent of a recognized tribe. Applicants must also have a minimum 2.0 GPA. The American Indian College Fund has provided 126,000 scholarships to American Indian students.
- American Indian Education Fund
- Amount: Up to $2,000
- Deadline: April 4
AIEF offers undergraduate and graduate scholarships. Undergraduate applicants must submit an application; proof of their, or a parent’s tribal enrollment; transcripts and ACT scores; and proof of full-time enrollment in college. Graduate applicants must submit the same materials, minus ACT scores. The AIEF is one of the largest Native American scholarship providers in the country, providing 225 recipients with $450,000 yearly.
- American Indian Graduate Center Graduate Scholarships
- Amount: $500 – $5,000
- Deadline: June 1
All applicants for the AIGC Fellowship, who are graduate students, are also considered for private awards managed by AIGC, and several pertain to public health or related fields, including the Grace Wall Barreda Memorial Fellowship. Fellowship applications require that graduate students be enrolled full-time at an accredited college and be a member or descendent of a federally recognized tribe. Applicants must prove financial need by submitting a financial needs form.
- AIS Scholarship
- Amount: Varies
- Deadline: Varies based on semester of application
These scholarships for undergraduate students require students be enrolled in college either full or part time, complete a FAFSA, have a minimum GPA of 2.25, and be at least a quarter enrolled member of a federally recognized tribe. First-time applicants must also submit a photo, personal letter, and tuition billing statement.
Professional Organizations for Native American Students
- National Indian Health Board: The NIHB provides services such as advocacy, research on Indian health issues, and training programs. They also raise awareness of Indian health issues. Students can find information on grants and requests for proposals, as well as related career opportunities.
- Rural Health Information Hub: The RHI has information on rural health across America, as well as rural tribal health, with specific information on health disparities in tribal areas. There is a database of opportunities and funding for rural health issues, such as the Indian Health Service loan repayment program and workshops for Native American students applying to health professional school.
- Indian Health Service: IHS administers a scholarship program for undergraduate and graduate students. Its mission is to raise American Indian health to the highest level and to ensure that health services are available and accessible. The IHS has information for patients and providers, and has a career opportunities page with a special section for students.
Scholarships for Asian and Pacific Islander Public Health Students
- APIASF Scholarship Program
- Amount: $2,500 – $20,000
- Deadline: January 11
Open to Asian and Pacific Islander students, applicants must be enrolling as an undergraduate, a first-generation college student, and have a 2.7 cumulative high school GPA or a GED. The Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund (APIASF) is the largest nonprofit scholarship provider for Asian and Pacific Islander Americans in the country.
- APIASF/United Health Foundation Scholarship
- Amount: $15,000
- Deadline: January 11
Applicants must be committed to working with underserved communities; planning to pursue a career as a healthcare professional; and be enrolled as a full-time, second-year student at an accredited college. Applicants for these public health scholarships for minorities must reside in one of 16 listed states.
- Japanese American Citizens League National Scholarship Program
- Amount: Varies
- Deadline: March 2
Applicants must be planning to enroll full-time as an undergraduate or graduate student and submit materials including a personal statement, letter of recommendation, proof of JACL membership, and transcripts with standardized test scores. Scholarships are open to students of any ethnic background, but applicants must be JACL student members.
- Against the Grain Groundbreaker Leadership Scholarship
- Amount: $1,500
- Deadline: May 7
Applicants must be of 50% Pacific Islander or Asian ethnicity, have unique leadership abilities, and have a minimum 3.5 GPA. This scholarship is open to high school seniors as well as full-time undergraduate and graduate students.
- Gay Asian Pacific Alliance Foundation Scholarships
- Amount: $1,000 – $5,000
- Deadline: June 30
Applicants should be LGBTQ and/or API activists, but do not need to identify as such to apply. The application requires short essay responses, one larger essay, transcripts, and a letter of recommendation. This scholarship is open to high school students, undergraduates, and graduate students.
Professional Organizations for Asian and Pacific Islander Students
- American Public Health Association – Asian and Pacific Islander Caucus for Public Health: APIC promotes the health and equity of Asians and Pacific Islanders by linking to academic, research, and advocacy resources. Caucus membership is free and includes access to events and the listserv. At the APHA annual meeting, APIC hosts events for young professionals and students in public health.
- National Council of Asian Pacific Americans: NCAPA is a coalition of 34 organizations devoted to Asian Pacific American interests, including health and scholarship related groups. The coalition was founded in 1996 and works to influence governmental policy for better representation. NCAPA provides resources on issues including health, education, and immigration on their website.
- Asian and Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund: APIASF includes three scholarship programs and has donated $100 million in scholarships since 2003. In addition to scholarships, APIASF also provides mentorship opportunities and collects research on APIA students.
Scholarships for Undocumented Public Health Students
- Que Llueva Café Scholarship
- Amount: Varies
- Deadline: TBA
Sponsored by Chicano Organizing and Research in Education (CORE), this scholarship is given to undocumented students enrolling for the first time in an accredited college or university. Open to students in all states and Puerto Rico, the award is based on the applicant’s personal information, including financial need, academic potential, and extracurricular involvement. The organization has awarded over $94,000.
- Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans
- Amount: Up to $90,000
- Deadline: November 1
Applicants’ parents must have been born as non-U.S. citizens. Current U.S. citizens, green card holders, and DACA students under 30 years old are eligible for this award. This fellowship awards stipends and a percentage of tuition and fees for up to two years.
- Immigration Lawyers Scholarship
- Amount: $1,000
- Deadline: September 30
Open to immigrants and children of immigrants, the Immigration Lawyers scholarship seeks to foster future leaders of America. Applicants must include proof of current or future college enrollment, an essay, transcripts, and a resume.
- Platt Family Scholarship Prize Essay Contest
- Amount: $500 – $1,500
- Deadline: July 31
Open to current full-time undergraduate students, this scholarship is based entirely on the applicant’s essay on the assigned topic. Essays can be mailed or emailed and must be between 1,500 and 5,000 words.
- Point Scholarships
- Amount: Varies
- Deadline: January 29
High school seniors and current college students are eligible for these public health scholarships for minorities, which specifically support LGBTQ students. Applicants must identify as a LGBTQ community member and be a current or future full-time college student.
Professional Organizations for Undocumented Students
- Pre-Health Dreamers: Founded by three undocumented youth, PHD supports undocumented pre-health students while also providing career resources and advocacy for the health of the undocumented community. Joining the listserv provides resources for job and internship opportunities, news, and PHD advocacy updates.
- TheDream.US: The largest college access organization for Dreamers provides two scholarships, one for high school or community college graduates, and the other for students who live in states that do not offer in-state tuition to Dreamers.
- United We Dream: United We Dream is the largest youth-led immigrant network in the United States, empowering young people to become active in their communities. The organization focuses on four areas: protecting immigrant youth, defending against deportation, education access, and LGBTQ immigrant justice and empowerment.
Types of Funding Available for Public Health Students
Scholarships are usually awarded based on academic credit and do not need to be paid back following graduation.
Many college and private scholarships might have minimum GPA requirements. Merit scholarships may also be awarded for athletic potential, community service, or leadership. Some minority scholarships are awarded based on work within that community.
Start your scholarship search early to see what’s available, as applications often require letters of recommendation, which take time to acquire.
Grants also generally do not have to be repaid, but they are often need-based. There are two main types of grants: ethnic and nonethnic. Ethnic grants are awarded to students in certain minority groups. Nonethnic grants may be awarded to students with disabilities and women.
The most common federal grants include federal Pell Grants and federal supplemental educational opportunity grants. There are also state grants, which vary, and students should check their state’s department of education for more information.
Work study is a program that provides students with the chance to work and earn money while enrolled in college. The money does not have to be repaid because students earn it. Work study is usually available to undergraduate and graduate students.
The most common form of work study is federal work-study. Students should be paid directly, or they can request that the money they earn be applied towards their tuition or other fees. Employment is often on-campus.
Federal Student Loans
Loans, or money that is borrowed and paid back with interest, are often needed to help pay for the tuition that remains after a student receives scholarships and grants. Federal student loans are often preferred over private loans, because they offer flat interest rates and more repayment options.
The two main types of federal student loans are subsidized and unsubsidized. Subsidized loans are based on financial need, and the amount borrowed cannot be more than your financial need. The government pays the interest while you are enrolled in school and for six months after graduation.
Unsubsidized loans are not based on financial need, and the amount borrowed is determined by the college based on the cost of attendance. However, you are responsible for all interest accumulated, and any interest not paid will be added to the principal balance.
Federal student loans have a maximum amount that a student can borrow, so they may need to turn to private loans for any remaining costs. Private student loans can be found at credit unions, online lenders, or at banks. Some of the advantages of private loans are that the processing time may be shorter and, because the interest rate varies, it may be lower than the interest rate for federal loans.
Private loans also come with some drawbacks. Rates may be higher than that of federal loans, and it may change once you have the loan. Private loans also require a credit check, so you may need a cosigner with good credit.
Filing the FAFSA
The FAFSA is a form that determines if students are eligible for federal financial aid, such as grants and loans. Colleges and states also use FAFSA results to award need-based aid.
Students can complete the form between October 1, 2017, and June 30, 2019, for the 2018-2019 academic year, and they must complete it every year. States and colleges may have their own application deadlines.
The amount of aid from the federal government is determined by subtracting your expected family contribution from the cost of attendance at your college.
The FAFSA is available in English and Spanish. Citizens and eligible noncitizens are eligible for federal student aid, but undocumented students are not eligible. To be eligible, students must also have a Social Security number or Alien Registration number and a high school diploma or GED.
Scholarship Application Tips
- 1. Meet Deadlines
Not meeting scholarship deadlines is one of the fastest ways to be disqualified from a potential award. Scholarship deadlines vary, and even colleges that don’t have an admissions deadline may have a scholarship deadline. Colleges and scholarship funds have many applicants and are not willing to make exceptions for late applications.
- 2. Follow Instructions
Colleges and scholarships have different deadlines, and they also have different application instructions and required materials. Pay close attention to the instructions and spend time on your materials. Compelling applications and essays are essential to being accepted and awarded scholarship funds.
- 3. College Contacts
During and after the application process, reach out to the colleges. Unless awarded a full scholarship, always contact the financial aid office to ask if more funds are available and inquire if there are any allocated specifically for minorities or public health students.
- 4. Reach Out
Reach beyond the college as well. Like the scholarships mentioned here, there are many funding opportunities that are not tied to an institution. Reach out to minority-specific and public health-specific organizations, especially the local chapters. Your local church, Rotary Club, corporations, or other community organizations might also have funds available.
- 5. Be Open
Students should be open to applying to all colleges of interest, even those that might seem too expensive on paper. A private college or out-of-state public university may offer better scholarships than local public colleges, and the cost might end up being lower.
Additional Scholarship Resources for Public Health Students
- FAFSA: The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is where students apply for federal loans and grants. There is also a link to the College Scorecard, where students can search for schools by program or location and learn information such as average costs, graduation rates, and the salaries of graduates.
- Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health – Financing Your Degree: The ASPPH offers information on the impact of public health, various areas of study, and public health education. Education resources also include a page on financing a public health degree, with information about state and federal aid, tips and tricks, and a section on scholarships for minorities and underserved populations.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Fellowships, Internships, and Learning Opportunities: The CDC offers information about internships, fellowships, job opportunities, and education for students at all levels of higher education. They also offer a specific page on opportunities related to minority health, for minority students and students interested in working to promote health equity.
- Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality: Part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the AHRQ’s mission is to ultimately make healthcare safer, more equitable, and affordable. The organization offers information about healthcare programs and research, as well as funding and grants.
- National Institute of Health Undergraduate Scholarship Program: The UGSP offers scholarship support, paid training, and employment at NIH after graduation. The scholarship is for students from disadvantaged backgrounds and provides a maximum scholarship of $20,000 per year for up to four years. Minority students who receive these public health scholarships must commit to training and employment at NIH. Applicants must be U.S. citizens with a minimum GPA of 3.3.