13 Best Scholarships for Asian American Students in 2024

With Asian Americans making up about 5% of the U.S. population, and about 40% of them attending college (more than any other ethnic group), it’s important that this demographic receives the resources and support needed to fulfill their higher education experience.

These resources can come in the form of financial aid, with much being offered from the federal governments, as well as many state governments. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) provides an instrumental starting point for students to discover and submit their eligibility for federal financial aid. FAFSA helps the Department of Education to understand the context of your current individual and family financial situation so they can determine your financial needs for attending college.

After completing FAFSA, you’ll then be offered a combination of grants and loans to help cover your tuition and living expenses as a college student. Most of the time, however, more assistance is needed to cover the costs. The first places to seek additional help are your state and your school, as they may be able to offer grants or scholarships to assist you.

There are several additional opportunities out there for Asian American or Pacific Islander students to find scholarships. Minority advocacy organizations, educational foundations, professional corporations, and other organizations may provide financial assistance in the form of scholarships or grants.

Keep in mind, you can benefit not only by financial aid opportunities specifically for students of Asian or Pacific Islander heritage, but also by those designed for those studying a specific subject, attending a specific school, or in various student circumstances.

Top Asian American Scholarships & Grants to Apply For

Here are a few examples of some of the financial assistance that is available for students of Asian heritage, or Asian Americans. These scholarship awards could be applied to students pursuing various types of higher education, including an undergraduate degree or graduate degree. These awards may also be of interest to graduating high school seniors, though these awards are not limited to just graduating high school seniors. Because any student seeking a college education likely has specific academic interests or personal interests, this list will also contain a few awards for students with different interests.

Minority Women in STEM Financial Need Scholarship

  • Amount: $1,000
  • Application Deadline: June 20, 2022

This scholarship is specifically for undergraduate BIPOC women at the University of Texas at Dallas who are pursuing careers in the STEM field. To apply, write about your career goals after college and how you plan to achieve them.

Financial Literacy Scholarship

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

The student debt crisis has been expanding, with 1 in 8 Americans now holding student loan debt totaling $1.6 trillion. Financial literacy is an important skill for students to have so they can make informed decisions about their college funding. This award aims to support students who are passionate about taking charge of their personal finances. Any student may apply for this award. To apply, students need to share a personal finance lesson that has benefited them. 

Climate Changemakers Scholarship

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

This award aims 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 award. To apply, students will need to share what they do to benefit the environment in their daily life. 

Minority/Women in STEM Scholarship

  • Amount: $1,040
  • Application Deadline: July 2, 2022

This scholarship aims to support underprivileged students who are interested in pursuing careers in STEM.  Any BIPOC and/or female high school senior or undergraduate who is a first-generation, low-income student interested in STEM may apply for this scholarship. To apply, students will need to share about some challenges they’ve overcome while pursuing their education and how they hope to benefit the world through their STEM education.

Optimist Scholarship

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

With so many problems in today’s world, staying positive and living with optimism can feel impossible. Maintaining a positive attitude through all of the tough times in your life is a difficult but important task. This scholarship 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 have stayed optimistic during difficult times, and what they have learned by doing so.

Art Matters Scholarship

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

Art is a great way for creative students to express themselves.  Unfortunately, many schools have been making cuts to their already underfunded arts programs. In the year 2000, 20% of schools provided classes in dance and theater. Since budget cuts in 2008, only 3% of schools provide dance classes, and 4% offer theater classes. This scholarship aims to support creative students who are passionate about art.  Any student may apply for this scholarship. To enter, students will need to share about their favorite piece of art and why they’re drawn to it.

A Dog Changed My Life Scholarship

  • Amount: $500
  • Application Deadline: August 15, 2022

Owning a dog is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have, bringing years of joy and happiness to individuals and families around the world. Their unconditional love, companionship, and support can truly make a difference in your life. All pets can bring happiness to the lives of their owners, but dogs make especially great companions. 38.4% of households in the US have at least one dog, making dogs the most popular pet.  This scholarship aims to honor our incredible furry friends and their loving owners by awarding one student $500 to put towards their education. Any high school senior, undergraduate, or graduate student who’s a US citizen or permanent legal resident and has been impacted by a dog may apply.

Science Matters Scholarship

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

Science is critical to the future of our world.  An increasing number of students are pursuing degrees in STEM, with more than 330,000 students receiving Bachelor’s degrees in STEM in 2015-2016 alone. This scholarship seeks to support students who are interested in science and fascinated by scientific discoveries.  Any student may apply for this scholarship. To apply, students will need to share which scientific discovery is their favorite and why.

Healthy Living Scholarship

  • Amount: $500
  • Application Deadline: August 15, 2022

Maintaining your health is important and can contribute to a higher quality of life, not only in the present but down the road as well.  Practicing good habits can impact your physical health and your mental health—both important aspects of feeling good on a day-to-day basis. Unfortunately, only 2.7% of Americans meet healthy lifestyle standards regarding diet, exercise, and being non-smokers. This scholarship seeks to support students who are passionate about health, wellness, and leading physically and mentally healthy lives. Any high school senior, undergraduate, or graduate student who’s a US citizen or permanent legal resident and passionate about health and wellness may apply for this scholarship.

Pet Lover Scholarship

  • Amount: $500
  • Application Deadline: August 15, 2022

The companionship of a pet is one of the best emotional support systems a person can have.  Pets-whether they’re cats, dogs, rabbits, horses, birds, or any other animal, provide us with unconditional love through life’s highest and lowest moments. 70% of US households own at least one pet, a number that has been growing in past decades as increasing numbers of people become pet owners. This scholarship aims to show appreciation for beloved pets and their owners by supporting pet-loving students pursuing their education. Any high school senior, undergraduate, or graduate student who’s a US citizen or permanent legal resident and has a pet they love may apply.

Asian American/Pacific Islander Scholarship

  • Amount: $750
  • Application Deadline: April 16, 2022
  • Eligibility Requirements:
    • Current undergraduate or high school senior Asian American/Pacific Islander student
    • U.S. Citizen or permanent legal resident

Asian American and Pacific Islanders make up a diverse, vibrant group of people with backgrounds of more than 50 countries and regions, celebrating rich cultural diversity and cultural traditions.

Students who are Asian American or Pacific Islander make up around 8% of those attending universities and colleges within the US. Enrollment among students in this group is up nearly one-third since 2000, however, a majority of the members are underserved in their overall needs, particularly when it comes to getting a 4-year degree at a major college or university.

The bi-annual Asian American/Pacific Islander Scholarship is meant to encourage diversity in academia. This $750 award will help current or aspiring students who are Asian American/Pacific Islander pay their tuition or student loans.

Advancing Social Justice for Asians Scholarship

  • Amount: $500
  • Application deadline: April 10, 2022

Funded by the International Chinese Fine Arts Council (ICFAC), the Advancing Social Justice for Asians Scholarship combats anti-Asian discrimination by helping graduate students pursue their higher education aspirations. It specifically supports those with goals to advance social justice for Asians, including those studying law, politics, journalism, education, as well as community organizers and social justice activists. To apply, you must complete an essay detailing your passion for social justice for Asians, including any actions you’ve taken to advance this effort and how you plan to use the award to continue in support of this ultimate goal.

Soo Joo Park Scholarship for Asian American Women

  • Amount: $2,000
  • Application deadline: September 1, 2021

In an effort to bring attention to the discrimination that occurs against Asian American immigrants (especially women), The Soo Joo Park Scholarship for Asian American Women seeks to recognize Asian American women, their challenges, and the difference they make in their own lives or their communities. This opportunity is open to applicants who are Asian American women ages 16 and up with immigrant backgrounds. Candidates can be in any field of study and level of education.

How to Qualify for Asian American Scholarships

Each individual scholarship for anyone who wants to attend college will have different requirements, determined by the organization that is offering it. While requirements vary from award to award, most scholarship opportunities require candidates to be:

  • A U.S. citizen (or qualified permanent resident)
  • Of Asian or Pacific Islander heritage
  • Enrolled in a U.S. accredited college or university
  • In good academic standing

Some awards may have higher requirements, such as superior academic performance, financial need, or participation in the community. Scholarship recipients will also have to be aware of differences in applications for undergraduate and graduate students. Still, others are created specifically for specific groups of Asian Americans.

The following ethnicities typically comprise what is referred to by Asian American or Pacific Islander:

  • Asian Indian
  • Bangladeshi
  • Burmese
  • Cambodian
  • Chinese
  • Filipino
  • Guamanian/Chamorro
  • Hmong
  • Indo Chinese
  • Indonesian
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • Laotian
  • Malaysian
  • Maori
  • Marshallese
  • Micronesian
  • Native Hawaiian
  • Nepalese
  • Okinawan
  • Pakistani
  • Palauan
  • Samoan
  • Tahitian
  • Taiwanese
  • Thai
  • Tongan
  • Vietnamese
  • Yapese

How to Apply for Asian American Scholarships

asian american scholarships

There are several items that students need to keep in mind as they apply for different financial awards, especially specific scholarships for academic interests, students attending graduate school, or awards targeted toward minority students.

Where to look for scholarships

Scholarship opportunities can be found in a variety of places. If you are currently a student in high school, a visit with your school counselor is a great place to start, as they can have valuable insights into the scholarships available specifically for you and your area. They may also offer practical tips to get you started on your search and to make your application stand out.

In addition, you can check the U.S. Department of Labor’s free scholarship search tool, your college’s financial aid office, and Bold.org. You may even check with community organizations – such as churches, volunteer groups, or your local library – to find less-known award opportunities.

Types of scholarship sponsors

Scholarship sponsors can be college departments, charitable foundations, professional corporations, minority advocacy groups, employers, community associations, other organizations, and even individuals.

There are also several organizations dedicated specifically to providing college funding and scholarships for Asian students. These include (but are not limited to):

Scholarship application strategy

Given the variety of available scholarships for Asian students and the limited time prospective and current college students have, it’s best to devise an efficient strategy to search for and select the scholarships that are most pertinent to you. Focus your time and effort on applying to those. This could include scholarships focused on your personal interests, academic interests, or your specific grade point average.

Remember, in addition to award opportunities designed for Asian American/Pacific Islander students, there are several options for this demographic based on merit, need, or other factors. These might include:

  • Academic achievement
  • Athletic performance
  • Musical talent
  • Unique hobbies or skills
  • Financial need
  • Volunteer work or community service

In narrowing your search, it’s also important to pay attention to the award amounts, deadlines, eligibility requirements, and the estimated time to apply.

When applying for scholarships, be sure to carefully follow all directions to submit your application. Many scholarships also require that you’ve completed the FAFSA before applying. For extra consideration, it’s also a good idea to apply as early before the deadline as you can.

Commonly Asked Questions About Scholarships for Asian Students

Can I get a scholarship for being Asian American or Pacific Islander?

Yes! There is a wide range of scholarship opportunities available for Asian Americans / Pacific Islanders. These awards aim to support this demographic by assisting you to fund your education and reach your career goals.

When should I start applying for scholarships?

The application deadlines for scholarships vary depending on the unique opportunity and the organization behind it. Pay attention to the details of each scholarship to find their specific deadlines.

What types of scholarships are available for Asian American or Pacific Islander students?

Some scholarships select a winner solely based on their belonging to the Asian American/Pacific Islander ethnicity. Many awards combine this with other factors to select a winner – such as academic achievement, quality of essay submission, intended college major, financial need, participation in the community, or other unique characteristics.

What to consider when applying for scholarships?

Remember that some scholarships have high competition and a lot of candidates. Don’t let your losses get you down. It’s somewhat of a numbers game, so just keep applying to as many as you can.

It’s also good to keep in mind that there are many scholarships you can still apply for once you’re enrolled in college. Award opportunities are available for both prospective and current college students.

How do I make my application stand out?

Write an essay that’s creative and unique to you (and grammatically correct, of course). Be careful to follow all submission directions exactly, as this can be an easy thing to miss. And finally, submit your application as early as you can.

How can I increase my chances of getting scholarships?

Once again, apply to as many scholarship opportunities as you can. Just make sure you capitalize your time and attention on the ones with very unique or specific requirements, as these may give you less competition and a higher chance of winning.

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