Four Financial Aid Sources for Latino Students
February 26, 2015

The Latino ethnic group (also known as Hispanics) is the largest minority group in the US. People belonging to this ethnic group typically comprise:

  • Cubans
  • Mexicans
  • Puerto Ricans and,
  • South Americans

Studies have established that because of various cultural or language differences, Latinos tend to receive the least amount of federal aid as compared to any other ethnic or minority group in the US. This could be because Latinos are not as familiar with the college entrance requirements in the US and how they could receive financial aid.

However, many colleges and universities in the US offer Latino students with a wide range of financial aid. These financial aid options would typically include:

  • Grants
  • Scholarships
  • Work-study programs and,
  • Loans

Latino students looking for financial aid for college must check out the following options.

1. Federal and State Financial Aid: Latino students will need to complete and submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). They could complete the form and submit it online. Usually, the deadline for submitting the FAFSA is June 30. However, students must not wait for the deadline; instead, they should submit the FAFSA as soon as possible.

The authorities will review the FAFSA and send it for state financial aid approval, subject to the availability of funds. Deadlines for state financial aid might differ from federal financial aid. Therefore, students must ascertain the deadlines for obtaining approval more quickly.

By submitting a FAFSA, Latino students could earn a scholarship or a federal work-study opportunity. They could even earn federal or state grants like the Jose Marti Scholarship Challenge Grant Fund. This scholarship awards students of Hispanic origin, planning to further their education at a Florida public or eligible private institution, with an award amount of $2,000.

The most common government grants include:

For more information on grants available for Latino students, click here.

2. Institutional Scholarships: Latino students will need to apply for scholarships in their colleges and universities. These scholarships could be need-based or merit-based. In addition, these scholarships could be general scholarships, athletic scholarships, minority scholarships etc.

For example, the University of Southern California Latino Alumni Association awards scholarships awards ranging from $500 to $5,000 per academic year to undergraduate students. It awards scholarships ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 per academic year to graduate students as well. Recipients typically receive 50 percent of the award in the fall semester and the remainder in the spring semester.

Similarly, the Oregon State University offers the Diversity Achievement Award to incoming freshmen and transfer students who belong to an ethnic minority. The amounted awarded varies up to $2,000 per year for a maximum of four years.

3. Organization-sponsored Scholarships: Latino students could also qualify for one of the several scholarships sponsored by various organizations. These scholarships could supplement their financial aid package considerably.

For example, the Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF) is the largest provider of college financial aid to Latino students in the US. It works in conjunction with other organizations for offering a wide range of undergraduate and graduate scholarships. You could click here to check out the scholarships offered by the HSF.

Similarly, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI) offers scholarships to Latino students who participate in service-oriented activities. The amounts awarded range from $2,500 to $5,000 for undergraduate and graduate students respectively.

The Hispanic Scholarship Consortium (HSC) also offers an assortment of scholarships to Latino students. These include general scholarship programs as well as specialized programs. Click here to find more information on the scholarships offered to Latino students.

4. Federal Loans: Most universities and colleges offer federal loans to students to pay for college expenses. Students need to repay these loans once they graduate or leave college. The most common loans offered by most universities and colleges include:

  • Need-based loans: These include the Federal Direct Subsidized Loan and the Perkins Loan
  • Non Need-based loans: these include the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan and the Federal Direct Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS)

Many colleges and universities endeavor to diversify their campuses and to make their schools more accessible to students belonging to various ethnicities, economic backgrounds and religious beliefs. Therefore, they offer many scholarships aimed at providing financial aid only to minority students. By helping them in this manner, these institutions help the minority students in creating a level playing field in their pursuit of higher education.