14 Best LGBTQ Scholarships for Students in 2024

If you are looking for the perfect LGBTQ scholarship for you, then you’ve come to the right place!

But first things first: what does LGBTQ stand for? The first four letters of this standard abbreviation are pretty self-explanatory: lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender. These four letters have been used since the 1990s, but recently there has been an increased awareness of the need to be inclusive of other sexual and gender identities to offer better representation. The “q” at the end of the acronym can represent “questioning,” for individuals exploring their sexuality, or “queer.” A plus sign is also typically added at the end of the acronym to represent other sexual identities, including pansexual peoples and Two-Spirt individuals. The terms “Queer Community” or “Rainbow Community” are also commonly used to describe LGBTQ+ people. The range of terms and words used to describe this community are constantly changing and growing, therefore, the most important thing is to be considerate and respectful, and use the terms that an individual prefers. The LGBTQ population is made up of millions of individuals across the country and the world, with each individual possessing a one-of-a-kind perspective, voice, and goal for the future.

Frequently, LGBTQ+ students are met with more financial challenges than their straight and cisgender peers. LGBTQ students often receive a lack of familial emotional and financial support, the anxiety and stress of being discriminated against in future employment, an inability to repay debt, and the fear of being denied financial assistance because of gender identity or sexual orientation. According to the LGBTQ Poverty Collaborative, members of the LGBTQ+ community also have a higher probability of living in poverty. 

With all of the challenges members of the LGBTQ+ face, having the means to attend college shouldn’t be one of them. LGBT college students should have equal access to education regardless of gender identity and sexual orientation. In recent years, an increasing number of scholarships have been created to support the LGBT community, to help give the members of this community more opportunities to succeed in their college and post-college careers. Additionally, by creating scholarships for LGBT students and access to financial opportunities, members of these communities can offer unique perspectives in college environments, as well as shape cultural progress on a larger scale. Keep reading to discover more about how to qualify for LGBT scholarships and how to apply to these scholarships for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. 

Top Scholarships for LGBTQ Students to Apply For

Included below are a number of different financial awards including LGBTQ Awareness awards, awards based on academic interests, and awards based on concepts like optimism, learning and changing, and more. These scholarships are meant to honor the individuality of many types of learners and their interests and goals.

Science Matters Scholarship

  • Amount: $500
  • Application Deadline: September 14, 2022

This award seeks to support students who are interested in science and fascinated by scientific discoveries. Any student may apply for this scholarship, including any high school student, undergraduate student, or student enrolled in graduate school. To apply, students will need to share which scientific discovery is their favorite and why.

Art Matters Scholarship

  • Amount: $500
  • Application Deadline: July 14, 2022

This award aims to support creative students who are passionate about art. Any student may apply for this scholarship. To enter, students will need to share their favorite piece of art and why they’re drawn to it.

Optimist Scholarship

  • Amount: $500
  • Application Deadline: July 14, 2022

This award seeks to encourage students to live their lives with optimism, hope, and joy. Any student dedicated to staying optimistic throughout all of life’s trials may apply for this scholarship. To apply, students will need to share how they’ve stayed optimistic during difficult times, and what they have learned by doing so.

Financial Literacy Scholarship

  • Amount: $500
  • Application Deadline: July 14, 2022

This award aims to support students who are passionate about taking charge of their personal finances. Any student may apply for this scholarship. To apply, students will need to tell about a personal finance lesson that has benefited them. 

Climate Changemakers Scholarship

  • Amount: $500
  • Application Deadline: July 13, 2022

This award seeks to support students who are passionate about advocating for and protecting the environment for future generations. Any student who acts to protect the environment may apply for this exclusive scholarship. To apply, students will need to share what they do to benefit the environment in their daily life.

Pool Family LGBT+ Scholarship

  • Amount: $2,500
  • Application Deadline: May 15, 2022

The Pool family is a family with LGBTQ+ kids and a proud mom who has been involved with their local PFLAG organization for many years. Any LGBTQ+ undergraduate student may apply for this exclusive scholarship opportunity. To apply, students will need to submit an essay or video sharing about their experiences as an LGBTQ+ student as well as their goals.

Gay’s Den Scholar Award

  • Amount: $500
  • Application Deadline: June 30, 2022

This award seeks to encourage and uplift LGBTQ+ individuals so they can lead proud and successful lives. Any LGBTQ+ high school student graduating in 2022 in Florida with at least a 2.5 GPA may apply for this scholarship.

Community Activist Scholarship

  • Amount: $500
  • Application Deadline: July 13, 2022

This award aims to support students who strive to positively benefit their community and the lives of those around them. Any student who is passionate about helping their community may apply for this award. To apply, students will need to share what they do in their local community to bring about positive change.

Mentor Scholarship

  • Amount: $500
  • Application Deadline: July 13, 2022

Acting as a mentor can make a lasting, positive impact on the lives of many other people who are looking for guidance or role models. This scholarship seeks to support students who act as mentors and role models to others. Any student who is a mentor to someone else may apply for this scholarship. To apply, students should share how they hope to positively impact the lives of those they mentor.

Learning and Changing Scholarship

  • Amount: $500
  • Application Deadline: July 13, 2022

This scholarship aims to encourage students to have open minds and continue to learn and grow. Any student who is dedicated to learning and changing may apply for this scholarship. To apply, students will need to share something they have learned that changed their opinion on something important in their life.

M.R. Brooks Scholarship

  • Amount: $1,000
  • Application Deadline: July 1, 2022

This award seeks to make higher education more accessible for LGBTQ+ single parents or the children of LGBTQ+ single parents. Any LGBTQ+ students in high school or in an undergraduate program who is a single parent, or the child of a single parent who is in the LGBTQ+ community may apply for this award. To apply, students will need to share about their experience as a single parent, or their experience being the child of a single parent that is in the LGBTQ+ community, and how they plan to use their education to make an impact on the world.

WiseGeek LGBTQ+ Awareness Scholarship

  • Amount: $500
  • Application Deadline: April 16, 2022

Battling civil rights issues that the LGBTQ+ community regularly faces requires providing special and select opportunities for members of this community to evolve and thrive. This particular scholarship was created to help encourage the dreams of LGBTQ+ youth across the United States. If you are a member of bold.org and identity as a member of this community, you are eligible to apply. This includes students of all ages and education levels, from high school students to graduate students. 

Pride Palace LGBTQ+ Scholarship

  • Amount: $1,000
  • Application Deadline: July 1, 2021

At its core, Pride Palace is an apparel company that wants to support and help people embrace their pride. Pride Palace believes in magnifying the unique voices of the LGBTQ+ community and helping elevate these special voices to as wide a platform as possible. Any member of the LGBTQ community from all education levels is eligible to apply. To apply, individuals must submit their social media and share what makes them proud to be a part of the LGBTQ community in three sentences or less. 

Mike Rhoades It’s Okay to be Gay Scholarship

  • Amount: $500
  • Application Deadline: April 1, 2021

This scholarship is funded by Mark Rhoades, a gay man who grew up in a conservative family, who felt forced to keep his identity a secret for 21 years. Rhoades started this scholarship to encourage more openness and acceptance for all the gay men in this world, and help support other men who have faced similar struggles. If you are an undergraduate, gay man, you are encouraged to apply! All you need to do is write a short essay about the challenges you have faced as a result of your identity. 

Pride in Diversity Scholarship

  • Amount: $2,000
  • Application Deadline: October 11, 2021

Every year, the Pride in Diversity scholarship targets specific members of the LGBTQ community. This year, they would like to open it up to students who have struggled to pay their tuition due to discrimination, medical costs due to transitioning, or financial hardships. 

This agency fundamentally focuses on encouraging diversity and inclusion in the Silicon Valley tech world, therefore, this scholarship is aimed towards students pursuing a degree in STEM, as a way to further diversify voices in this space. To apply, individuals must submit a one to a two-minute video discussing their role in both the LGBTQ and STEM communities, and why this scholarship is important to them to continue their education. 

How to Qualify for LGBTQ Awareness Scholarships

lgbtq scholarships

Now that we know LGBT Scholarships exist – how do you qualify for them? As stated above, the LGBT community includes lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer individuals, but also many more identities. The more inclusive acronym, LGBTQTTQQIAA+, also includes intersex, asexual, allies, pansexual, agender, genderqueer, bigender, gender variant, and pangender individuals. If you identify in one or more of these groups, then the chances are that you qualify for LGBT scholarships. In most cases, you won’t need to offer proof that you identify as LGBTQ during the application process. Rather, you will be asked to write about your experience being part of the LGBTQ community. 

This is an opportunity for LGBTQ students to offer authentic insight into how their lives have been shaped by their experiences as an LGBTQ student.

Check Award Eligibility

Just like all scholarships, LGBTQ awards scholarships will have eligibility criteria that you will have to meet to apply. There are no limits to how many awards a student can accept in an academic year, so students should apply to what they can. The first thing you should do when you find a scholarship that appeals to you is to check the eligibility criteria. Firstly, while some scholarships will be available nationally, others might target a specific geographic region. Secondly, some scholarships might require that you have a certain GPA average to apply. Finally, some scholarships may target a certain age group or college major.

Find Awards Based On Your Education Level

While some LGBTQ+ scholarships will be aimed towards graduating high school seniors attending an accredited US college or accredited institution, others might target those looking for community college opportunities. There are even scholarships for LGBT students who are still in high school and students who have graduated from college but might be looking to return for other opportunities. Other scholarships will be geared towards those looking to major in STEM, while some will be aimed towards students looking to major in the humanities.

Find Awards Relevant to You

Additionally, while there will be some general LGBTQ scholarships that are targeting all members of the LGTBQ community, many scholarships will also be aimed at specific types of individuals within the LGBTQ community. While some scholarships may be geared towards gay men who are undergraduates and graduate students, there will be others geared towards lesbian scientists who are high school seniors or those already attending a higher education institution.

Check Eligibility Criteria

While eligibility criteria vary across scholarships, so does the overall mission of scholarships. Some are geared towards LGBTQ allies dedicated to the active promotion of equal rights and looking to raise awareness for this community – especially if they have a close family member or friend who has faced extreme hardships or struggles due to their LGBTQ identity. Taking a gay test can be a helpful step in self-discovery and understanding your identity, which can further inspire your advocacy efforts. If you consider yourself a leader in the LGBTQ community, and are looking to raise awareness in the future, or have already, consider looking for these types of scholarship opportunities.

How to Apply for LGBTQ Awareness Scholarships

Filling out LGBTQ+ scholarship applications may feel similar to the college application process. You will be asked to provide basic information and potentially letters of recommendation and a personal essay or statement. 

Your Personal Essay

Unless you are applying to a no-essay scholarship, the most important part of your LGTBQ scholarship application will be the personal essay. In fact, many scholarship judges will rely on personal essays to select a scholarship winner. If you don’t consider yourself a strong writer – don’t panic! Here are a few tips and tricks to help write an epic LGBTQ scholarship essay. 

Follow Essay Guidelines

First and foremost, many scholarship providers will provide a specific length and format that they wish your essay to adhere to. Make sure you are following these essay guidelines, otherwise there’s always a strong chance your scholarship application might be immediately rejected.

Write Authentically, But For Your Audience

Secondly, learn about your audience and what they might be looking for. If you read about the scholarship’s overall mission or have the chance to read previous winner’s essays online, this can help give you a better idea of how to approach your scholarship essay.

Don’t Use One Essay Every Time

Even though scholarship essays might start to feel repetitive, make sure to tailor every scholarship to the exact essay question. It might be easier to cut corners and use the same essay for all of your applications, but if you aren’t directly answering the question that you are getting asked, that is the first thing judges will notice. 

Pay Attention to the Details

While it may seem obvious, paying attention to the application details is an easy and important way to land yourself a killer scholarship. Even if you’ve already filled out a dozen scholarship applications, it’s easy to overlook minor details.

Stay Organized

From writing down all of your scholarship application deadlines to triple-checking your scholarship essay for typos, paying attention to the details of your scholarship application can make the difference between winning scholarships to finding yourself at the top of the reject pile. If possible, have a parent or friend briefly read over your application for small errors. Sometimes having a second pair of eyes can be extremely helpful in not allowing small details to fall through the cracks. 

Where to Look for Scholarships

LGBTQ scholarships are everywhere, you just need to know the right places to look.

Online

By simply entering “LGBTQ+ scholarships” into a search engine or a scholarship search engine, numerous different results will come up. You will be able to search through dozens of scholarship options and narrow down which ones you are eligible for and will suit your needs. Many of these LGBTQ+ scholarship round-ups will even break down LGBTQ scholarships into subsets, including general scholarships, regional scholarships, athletic scholarships, etc. 

College Resource Centers

Additionally, many colleges and universities have LGBTQ resource centers for you to take advantage of. These centers often offer LGBTQ-specific scholarships or federal student aid to encourage applicants from all backgrounds and identities to apply to their particular university as a means to increase diversity on campus. Some of these opportunities are even degree-based. If you have a dream college you plan on applying to or have already been accepted to a school you plan on attending, reach out to the administration office and inquire about an LGBT resource center or opportunities for LGBT students.

Types of Scholarship Sponsors

There are a variety of sponsors and providers offering scholarships for LGBTQ students. Some individuals offer scholarships as a way to give back to causes close to their hearts, including the “Traub-Dicker Rainbow Scholarship” established by Peggy Traub and Phyllis Dicker. As mentioned, many schools also provide specific LGBTQ scholarships to encourage members of this community to apply to their schools, such as “The Pride Scholarship at Michigan State University.” Many scholarships are funded by specific organizations, non-profits, or foundations that exist to help support members of the queer community, including Pride Foundation scholarships, Pride Foundation Awards, and the LEAGUE Foundation scholarships. 

Scholarship Application Strategy

With so many LGBTQ scholarships out there to choose from, narrow your search down to scholarships that apply most specifically to you.

Find Relevant Awards

If you are a transgender female athlete – apply to scholarships that specifically target transgender students who are also female athletes. If you are an LGBTQ ally who has dedicated your high school years to the active promotion of LGBTQ rights and opportunities, look for scholarships that are seeking out pioneers and leaders in the queer community. By applying to scholarships that target your specific LGBTQ identity, not only will the application pool be smaller and less competitive, but it will also be easier for you to get deep and personal in your essay. 

Narrow Your Search

Set up a scholarship application search that narrows the list down to awards you think you have the best chance of winning. In scholarship-specific databases, you can filter down your search by region, GPA, and other factors that will help you find scholarships that play to your strengths. If you need to submit letters of recommendation, ask mentors, coaches, or teachers that know you well and can boast and highlight your talents and strengths. 

Commonly Asked Questions about Scholarships for LGBTQ Students 

Can I get a scholarship for being LGBTQ+?

Yes. There are various scholarships available for members and allied students of the LGBTQ+ community. Some are general scholarships that welcome all LGBTQ+ applicants, while others may focus on specific subgroups of this community and those who demonstrate academic achievement. The bottom line is, there’s something out there for everyone. 

When should I start applying for scholarships?

It’s never too early to start applying for financial awards. If you are looking for opportunities for college students or graduate students, it’s best to start your search as early as junior or senior year of high school. Many scholarships are awarded annually, so if you miss a deadline, you can always apply the following year. 

What types of scholarships are available for LGBTQ+ students?

There is a wide range of LGBTQ+ scholarships available for every subset of the LGBTQ community. Financial awards are also broken down by school, region, and even major. While some financial awards are targeted at college students pursuing a STEM degree, others are aimed at high school seniors or undergraduate students studying humanities or the arts. 

What to consider when applying for scholarships?

When applying for LGBTQ scholarships, pay attention to the details. First, check and see if you are eligible to apply for that specific scholarship, and take note of all the materials you will need to submit. Don’t overlook the scholarship deadline and mark it down on your calendar. 

How do I make my application stand out?

The best way to make your LGBTQ scholarship application stand out is through a personal essay. Your personal essay is how the judges will get to know you and your unique story – so make sure to dedicate the most time to this section of the application.

How can I increase my chances of getting scholarships?

While it’s always best to apply to as many applications as possible to increase your chances of landing a scholarship, be selective when deciding what financial awards to apply for. Instead of only applying to general LGBTQ financial awards, try and find ones that match your specific circumstances.

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