Whether you’ve been accepted into college already (if so, congratulations!), or you’re hoping to go soon, there are probably a lot of things going through your head: Will I make friends? Will I cope with the course work? And especially, how will I afford it?
The cost of going to college is a huge worry for many students and their families, and until education is free for all (we can keep dreaming), it will continue to be so. But there is no denying it: education is worth the investment. Thankfully, there are literally hundreds of scholarships out there. Colleges, universities, organizations, and state institutions all offer different types of financial assistance, usually for specific demographics, or tied to certain academic subjects.
If you’re a gay, lesbian, bi, transgender, intersex, or questioning student you’ll be glad to know there is no shortage of scholarships reserved exclusively for the LGBTQ community (a quick note on terminology: we mostly use the acronym LGBTQ throughout the article, for consistency, but we know that no one term can truly represent all the identities on the sexual and gender spectrum. Just know that you are seen, and this guide is for you too!).
Many scholarships are specifically for LGBTQ students, but there are others for allies, especially those who are deeply involved in the fight for equal rights. There are scholarships specifically for people from certain states or cities, others that are tied to a college or school, and some that are reserved for athletes, artists, or musicians. Lots of scholarships require applicants to be involved in activism or support the community in some way, while some are reserved for students with a proven academic record.
And if you’re sure of what you want to study, don’t forget to check scholarships tied to that area of study; in our list you’ll find 10 scholarships reserved for those of you who want to study business, those who want to learn about the arts, become journalists, and even pilots.
So where do you start looking for a scholarship as an LGBTQ student? Well, browsing our list is a good first step! We have listed 15 general LGBTQ scholarships (although do read carefully, as they all have their own specific requirements), 10 scholarships tied to specific subjects, and five scholarships offered by some of the most LGBTQ-friendly schools in the country.
To make it easier, we have listed the eligibility criteria, how much the scholarship is worth, and the deadline by which you should apply. However, you should always check the scholarship website for information on when to apply, as it can change each year.
GENERAL LGBTQ SCHOLARSHIPS
Colin Higgins was an acclaimed screenwriter, director, and producer. In 1986 he established the Colin Higgins Foundation with the aim of furthering his humanitarian goals, and the foundation now supports many different organizations and projects that work with LGBTQ youth, from the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender outreach and AIDS prevention programs.
In 2000 the foundation established the Colin Higgins Youth Courage Awards, to celebrate people who “have endured overwhelming hardships, yet have handled themselves with the utmost grace and dignity”, and who have shown courage in the face of intolerance and bigotry based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The scholarship is meant to further advocacy and education efforts of the grantee, who will also receive a trip to the much-celebrated Creating Change Conference, where they will be able to network and learn with other outstanding LGBTQ leaders.
Eligibility: Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, two spirit, queer and questioning youth activists (through age 20) who have transformed their experiences with bigotry and discrimination into opportunities to inspire others by taking action, rallying support, building community, and working to change the systems and institutions that impact their lives.
Point Foundation’s aim is to empower promising lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer students to “achieve their full academic and leadership potential”, and so far they are doing a pretty good job—Point is the nation’s largest scholarship-granting organization for LGBTQ students in the nation. Every year the foundation grants between 20 and 30 scholarships to students who are openly members of the LGBTQ community, but it’s not just about money.
Point also provides recipients with mentorship and advice throughout their academic and professional careers, as well as training in leadership techniques, and internship opportunities with other organizations and companies.
Eligibility: Point Foundation considers lots of different factors when assessing applications, including strong academic achievement, a proven track record of leadership and community involvement, involvement in the betterment of the LGBTQ community, and financial need. You must be at least a senior in high school and intending to go to college, or already enrolled in an accredited college or university in the United States.
Amount: $10,000, renewable for up to four years.
Deadline: end of January
The program is open to self-identified gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender graduating high school seniors who meet certain criteria (more on that below). Since 1996, the foundation has awarded 144 college scholarships worth a total of $317,500 to students from all over the U.S. There are 5 award categories, and each student application is automatically reviewed for each.
Some of the awards change every year, so remember to check. To apply you will need to complete two personal essays, provide at least two letters of recommendation, and show proof of community involvement.
Eligibility: To apply you must be graduating from high school and aiming to attend an accredited college, university, or vocational school within the United States or Canada.
Amount: Various Amounts
This fantastic foundation provides financial resources and community support to inspirational LGBTQ and allied students across the Northwest. They awarded their first scholarship back in 1993, and since then they have supported over 1,800 students across Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington, and distributed over $5 million dollars.
Thanks to the generous pride community, the foundation actually has over 60 scholarship funds (although you only have to fill out one application). The wide array of different scholarships means students from vastly different backgrounds and with different interests can each find the perfect scholarship for them.
Receiving a Pride Foundation Scholarship doesn’t mean you’ll just receive money—you’ll be connected to a growing community that will provide the support, guidance, and encouragement you need to reach your goals.
Eligibility: Applicants must be a resident of Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, or Washington but may study elsewhere. You can also apply if you have been living in one of these states for at least three months prior to the application deadline, or have lived within that state for at least one year at any time within the five years prior to the application deadline. Applicants must be pursuing post-secondary education.
Amount: Between $3,250 and $12,000
Deadline: Early January
Ok, we lied: Stonewall actually offers two scholarships!
The Traub-Dicker Rainbow Scholarship provides one-year scholarships to people graduating high-school or already enrolled in college and even graduate school. It was established by Peggy Traub and Phyllis Dicker with the aim of encouraging women-identified lesbians to pursue higher education, and is paid directly to the recipient’s school.
Eligibility: Applicants are judged on academic achievement, outstanding community service and leadership, and commitment to impacting LGBTQ issues.
Amount: $1,500 or $3,000
Deadline: 2020 application will open in April
Levin-Goffe Scholarship for LGBTQI Immigrants provides generous scholarships to people who are both LGBTQ (or intersex) and undocumented migrants, refugees, or asylum seekers (or people who have been already granted asylum).
Eligibility: The scholarship is granted to people who do not hold U.S. citizenship, a green card, or an F-1 visa; are enrolled at an accredited, nonprofit school in New York City; have completed one academic year in college; have a GPA of at least 3.25.
Amount: a total of $25,000 for up to two years of school
Deadline: 2020 application will open in April
Asian and Pacific Islander Queer Women and Transgender Community (APIQWTC) is an organization operating out of the San Francisco Bay Area which supports queer Asian and Pacific Islander women and transgender people who want to pursue either higher education or technical and professional training. The APIQWT is a welcoming, fun, and intergenerational community of about 800 Asian and Pacific Islander queer women and trans people, that has been operating (in different forms) since 1987.
It is a completely volunteer-led organization, but they really put the work in! APIQWT organizes social events such as an annual BBQ, monthly meetups, basketball, doggy play dates, games and movie nights, annual Tahoe trip, wine tasting trips, and the Annual Spring Banquet—their main event and fundraiser. They also co-sponsor workshops and educational community events.
Eligibility: The scholarships are open to students currently enrolled in a certificate or degree-granting program, as well as to high school seniors and other people about to matriculate into a certificate or degree-granting program. Applicants should demonstrate academic commitment as well as community involvement.
Deadline: Early February
The Davis-Putter scholarship has a long, interesting history. It was founded in 1961 in memory of Marian Davis, a teacher and political activist who dedicated her life to fighting racism, homophobia, and other types of oppression. She died in 1960, and her husband Horace B. Davis organized the fund as a tribute.
One of the major supporters was Norton S. Putter, a polish-born activist who spent his life in the United States working for justice, especially in the civil rights movement. This scholarship isn’t reserved to LGBTQ students specifically, but is open to anyone who fights against injustice of any kind.
Eligibility: These are need-based scholarships, awarded to students at the college or university level who are enrolled in a trade or technical program and who are active in the progressive movement.
Amount: up to $15,000
Deadline: Early April
Tom Markowski and Jim Leach were a gay couple living in San Francisco through the AIDS crises of the 1980s who wanted to “make a difference”, and felt during that difficult time there was a need for positive gay and lesbian role models. The scholarship fund was part of a bequest from Jim’s estate, but it reflects both of their wishes to help LGBTQ further their education, with the hope that one day they will also impact the LGBTQ community through their work.
According to the couple’s wish—they both died as a result of HIV a few years apart—the scholarships should go to people likely to “…make a substantial contribution to society, thereby enhancing society’s perception of gay and lesbian people as well as increasing the gay and lesbian community’s self-esteem…”
Eligibility: The scholarships are reserved for students who are accepted (or have already applied) into one of the following universities: San Francisco State University, Stanford University, University of California at Berkeley, University of California, San Francisco, or University of California, Hastings College of the Law. Applicants must self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer, and demonstrate promise for becoming a positive role model for other LGBTQ people.
Deadline: Early April
The Gamma Mu Foundation actually offers multiple scholarships. The foundation largely supports gay men who want to further their education, whether at college, university, or through a professional or vocational training program. Since 2016 however, the foundation also offers two new scholarships: the Folisi & Goodwin Scholarship in Memory of Ray Williams and the Phillip Papel Memorial Scholarship, both of which are meant for students of the broader LGBTQ community.
All programs support different types of degrees, such as associates, bachelor’s, and graduate degrees (but not online programs). The scholarships are offered to full-time students who are starting out at an accredited institution.
Eligibility: You must be a gay man (younger than 35) to be eligible for most of the foundation’s scholarships, except for the Folisi & Goodwin Scholarship in Memory of Ray Williams and the Phillip Papel Memorial Scholarship, which are available to the wider LGBTQ community. You must have finished high school (or GED) by the June of that year and be a U.S. citizen, but the foundation considers a lot of other factors too—preference is given to students from rural or underserved communities, who have overcome discrimination, who demonstrate leadership qualities, and who can show strong academic performance.
Amount: Between $1,000 to $2,500
Deadline: End of March
Better Brothers Los Angeles (BBLA) is an organization that educates, empowers, and connects members of the Black LGBTQ community in Southern California. Through their work, which includes outreach programs, workshops, the yearly Truth Awards, and more, they aim to strengthen the sense of community and overcome differences. BBLA also tries to help LGBTQ students reach their educational goals by providing them with scholarships towards school fees and other costs (such as books and other course materials).
Eligibility: The scholarships support Black LGBTQ students who have been admitted to or are already attending an accredited degree program or vocational school.
Amount: Between $500 and $5,000
This renowned organization serves the Hampton Roads community by providing a home for the celebration of LGBTQ organizations, institutions and culture, and promoting strong partnerships. Advocacy and education are their other areas of focus, both of which are furthered through the Hampton Roads Pride Scholarship. Since 2007, the Hampton Roads Pride Scholarship Program has assisted over 25 students from the area to attend college, university, or trade school.
Eligibility: All LGBTQ and LGBTQ allies who are attending or have been accepted to an accredited higher educational institution in the United States are encouraged to apply, but must have a grade point average above 3.0 and provide official transcripts from their educational institution.
Deadline: Early April
#12. eQuality Scholarship
eQuality is born out of the joint effort of a diverse group of people and organizations based in the San Francisco Bay Area. It began in 1989 as a scholarship program by Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s lesbian and gay employee group, but has now grown into a big family of non-profits and companies, which all support the cause. Over the past 30 years, eQuality has awarded over 375 scholarships totaling more than $1,474,000.
The scholarships are for California students who have demonstrated commitment to furthering the rights of the LGBTQ community, and students of all sexual orientations and gender identities are welcome to apply.
Eligibility: You are welcome to apply if you fall into any one of these categories: you are a resident of northern or central California who expects to complete high-school or community college, you are enrolled in or have already been accepted into an accredited nursing program in California, you are pursuing a graduate degree in another healthcare field at an accredited graduate school in California, or you are a California resident studying in healthcare elsewhere in the United States.
Deadline: Late January
#13. F (PFLAG)
As of October 2018, the PFLAG National Scholarship program is on hiatus, but there is no need to panic! Each chapter has its own scholarships to offer, and each state has one or more chapter, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virgina, and Washington, so make sure you check their sites!
Eligibility: Varies per chapter
Amount: Varying. Between 500 and 3,000
Deadline: Varies per chapter
Out for Education’s mission is to provide educational scholarships to LGBTQIA+ youth in the Houston area. The scholarship foundation was initially a combination of two scholarship programs offered by different non-profits: PFLAG-Houston and Houston Area Teen Coalition of Homosexuals (H.A.T.C.H.). In 1999 they united, and have since changed their name to Out for Education. Together, they are one of Houston’s largest LGBTQ non-profit organizations.
Eligibility: Eligible applicants must be attending or have attended a Houston-area (which includes Harris and other contiguous counties) high school or college at the time of application and must be between the ages of 17 and 25. Applications are judged on a combination of achievement in the areas of academia, extracurricular activities, and leadership, as well as financial need.
Amount: Varies, but ranges from $1,000 over one year to $10,000 over four years.
Deadline: Late February
Ever dreamed of studying abroad? Travelling to another country to study is a unique, enriching, and unforgettable experience, but it is not always available to everyone. This scholarship is for students who are underrepresented among the U.S. study abroad population, including but not limited LGBTQ students.
The fund was established in 2010, and has since awarded $1.8 million in scholarships to 466 students, including minority, community college, first-generation, and LGBTQ students. FEA also gives preference to students with demonstrated financial need.
Eligibility: This financial assistance is open to students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents and who are currently undergraduates at a college or university in the U.S. The student’s chosen study abroad program must be eligible for credit at their home institution, and it must be at least 28 days long.
Amount: Between $1,250 to $10,000
Deadline: Early January
DISCIPLINE SPECIFIC SCHOLARSHIPS
The American Bar Association (ABA) Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) is one of the entities working on fostering an inclusive and diverse environment within the association and the legal environment as a whole. SOGI focuses specifically on the participation and equal treatment of LGBTQ people, and they recently announced the ABA SOGI LGBT Scholarship Program for law students and/or law school graduates studying for the bar.
You don’t necessarily have to identify as LGBTQ, but you must be doing public interest work (either academic research, advocacy, teaching, working in a non-governmental organization, etc) to promote the rights of LGBTQ people.
Eligibility: To apply you must be either a law student, a recent graduate from an ABA-accredited law school, or you must have secured a summer or fall internship with an organization engaged in work that has a direct impact on the LGBTQ community.
Amount: Varies, up to $5,000
These scholarships are reserved for both graduate and undergraduate LGBT students who are pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM). Allies who are active in the LGBTQ community are also welcome to apply.
This excellent organization is run by scientific and technical LGBTQ professionals who earn a living in a whole host of different scientific and technical fields, and who want to promote the academic excellence and visibility of talented LGBTQ students in STEM fields. They carry out their mission by providing education, advocacy, professional development, network, and peer support.
Eligibility: To apply you must have successfully completed a minimum of two years of higher education at an accredited U.S. college or university, maintained a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.0, and be enrolled in a declared major in an accredited STEM or STEM-related teaching field. Students who are active supporters of organizations or projects that promote LGBTQ rights and inclusion are preferred.
This incredible organization was born back in 1984, when San Francisco physicians Lesley Anderson and Patty Robertson organized the first conference for lesbian physicians: the Women in Medicine Conference (WIM). The conference has taken place every year since, and has grown both in numbers and diversity, now welcoming all lesbian and sexual minority female physicians, medical students and their female partners to its conferences.
The organization also now offers two scholarships to female medical students enrolled in their first, second or third year of allopathic, osteopathic, or naturopathic medical schools in the United States or Canada in 2020.
Eligibility: This scholarship is available to female medical students who study the above subjects, are in good academic standing, and have actively demonstrated leadership for the LGBTQ community.
The California Teachers Association offers both a grant program—which supports groups and projects that promote understanding, inclusion, and respect of LGBTQ people—and a scholarship program, which supports self-identified LGBTQ students enrolled in a teacher or counseling credential or graduate program and who are pursuing a career in public education. Both the grant and the scholarship are named after educator Guy DeRosa, who was a lifelong supporter of LGBTQ rights and human rights in general.
Eligibility: Applicants must be either a member of CTA/SCTA, or attending a public school and sponsored by a CTA/SCTA member.
The association actually offers a few different scholarships:
The Leroy F. Aarons Scholarship has been fostering just and accurate coverage of LGBTQ in the media since it was founded in 2005 in memory of Leroy Aarons, NLGJA’s founder and news executive at The Washington Post and The Oakland Tribune.
The Kay Longcope Scholarship was established in 2008 and supports the education of LGBTQ students of color who wish to pursue a career in journalism. The fund was created in memory of Kay Longcope.
Eligibility: LGBTQ students who wish to pursue a career in journalism and can demonstrate passion in the field, as well as an interest in LGBTQ issues. The Kay Longcope scholarship is reserved for students of color.
Deadline: Mid May
Arts Out Loud is an organization that empowers young LGBTQ artists to achieve both their artistic and educational goals, and it does that in many different ways. The Dream Out Loud Scholarship is meant to support young artists who identify as LGBTQ and are pursuing a career in film, theatre, dance, or music.
And another big perk—you get a professional artist to mentor you one-to-one for an entire year! This is an incredible opportunity to get to know people in the LGBTQ artist community, as well as get support from someone who’s already been through it all.
Eligibility: You must identify as LGBTQ, be a U.S. citizen, and be between the ages of 17 and 22 by the first day of the school year. Students must carry a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better, and be pursuing a course in the arts.
Amount: Up to $1000
This one-of-a-kind scholarship was born out of the entrepreneurial spirit of the Queer Student Allowance and a math teacher, who together organized the first-ever drag show at their Mission High School. The show attracted the attention and admiration of a group of drag queens, and they decided to partner and create an organization to raise money for scholarships for LGBTQ youth. The group has so far awarded over $120,000 in scholarships to young LGBTQ students across California.
Eligibility: The scholarships are reserved to LGBTQ students who are pursuing a degree in the arts, are between 16 and 25 years of age, and are in California, Chicago, or New York City.
Deadline: April/May, but check their social media for updates
Do you ever wonder how these scholarships come about? In this case, it is thanks to the innovative thinking of several Harvard and Yale students, who saw a missing space for LGBTQ business students. They ended up organizing the very first student-run business conference for the community, now known as the ROMBA Conference.
Two decades after it was founded, the conference is now a 1,800 person event, and Reaching Out has become a non-profit that works on a lot more than just the conference. For example, the organization has partnered with several top business schools to create this fellowship, which aims to empower the LGBTQ business leaders of tomorrow.
Eligibility: You must be accepted into one of the MBA programs partnered with Reaching Out (they are listed on their page). Fellows must also serve as an ambassador to the LGBTQ community on campus, take an active role with LGBTQ initiatives, and work with the organization to identify future candidates.
Amount: $10,000 per academic year or $20,000 total
Deadline: Varies. You apply after you have been accepted into your chosen MBA program.
Morgan Stanley, the distinguished multinational investment bank and financial services company, is offering Black, Hispanic, Native American, and LGBT college juniors who are selected as RBF scholars the opportunity to work at Morgan Stanley (in Baltimore) for a summer internship. As a successful applicant, you’ll also receive a $15,000 scholarship for exceptional academic achievement. Students of all majors and disciplines are encouraged to apply.
Eligibility: Applicants should have an excellent academic record, be part of a minority or underrepresented community, and be willing to work for a summer in Baltimore, Maryland.
In 1990 a small group of gay pilots discreetly gathered in Provincetown, Massachusetts. They didn’t use last names, out of fear they might lose their jobs if discovered, and identified each other by wearing aviation-themed t-shirts. Thirty years later, the National Gay Pilots Association (NGPA) is the largest organization of LGBTQ aviation professionals from around the world.
The NGPA has now partnered with several different companies to offer scholarships in different fields of aviation to students from the LGBTQ community, or allies who can demonstrate an active participation in the LGBTQ community.
Eligibility: Each scholarship has different requirements, so check the website thoroughly. The only universal requirement is that you must be an NGPA member when you apply. The commission is likely to consider different factors when considering applications, including financial need, academic performance, and involvement in the LGBTQ community. Open to international students too!
Deadline: End of August
SCHOLARSHIPS BY SCHOOL
The University of Virginia is one of the best schools in the country for LGBTQ students, and it offers three excellent scholarships too. The Jeffrey L. Reider and Charles F. Otis Endowed Scholarship is for undergraduate (excluding first years) and graduate students who work toward the advancement of LGBTQ rights and acceptance. Students must apply for this themselves.
On the other hand, grantees of The Reider/Otis Scholarship must be nominated by faculty, staff, or students. The scholarship also recognizes students who have actively supported, through volunteerism or advocacy, the LGBTQ Center at the University of Virginia. Last but not least, The Peter L. Page Scholarship and Grant is reserved for highly-motivated gay male incoming first year students.
Eligibility: Varies, but applicants to all scholarships must be students (or incoming students) at the university.
Amount: Between $5,000 and $10,000
One of the absolute top schools for LGBTQ students, UCLA offers several scholarships to new and incoming students, continuing students, and graduating students. There are too many to be fully listed here, so make sure sure you check out the website.
One of the most popular scholarships, available both to incoming and continuing students, is the Edward Scott Morrison Scholarship, which is awarded to students who identify as LGBTQ and are committed to LGBTQ leadership (undocumented students encouraged to apply). The UCLA Lambda Alumni Association Scholarships are awarded both to incoming and graduating students, while the Ronni Sanlo Emerging Leader Award is open to first year and second year students who have demonstrated leadership potential on campus.
Eligibility: Varies for each scholarship
The University of Michigan was one of the first to open an LGBT center all the way back in 1971, and it has always kept up its values of inclusivity and equality, thanks especially to the work of its Spectrum Center, a collaborative space for students, staff, faculty, and the community at large.
The Chris Armstrong Scholarship was established by Armstrong’s parents after he became the first openly gay student-elected president of the Michigan Student Assembly, and was publicly rebuked for his sexuality. The scholarship can help students support their education, but also develop their leadership skills through participation in various activities, mentorship, and support.
Eligibility: In order to apply you must be entering the University as a full-time undergraduate, show leadership of, and support for LGBTQ organizations and causes.
Love nature, and looking for a university that offers both academic excellence and a vibrant LGBTQ scene? Look no further—Oregon University is surrounded by stunning mountains, and is home to the supportive and hard-working LGBT Education and Support Services (LGBTSS), which boasts a long list of educational resources and interesting projects.
And the best thing? The University doesn’t just offer one scholarship, but two! The John R. Moore Scholarship is for students who contribute deeply to the LGBTQ community at the University, while the RJ Hoyman Scholarships are for students who have demonstrated great leadership and contribution to the wider LGBTQ community in Oregon.
Eligibility: The John R.Moore Scholarship is open to all undergraduate and graduate students. There is no GPA requirement, but students have to demonstrate active participation in the LGBTQ community at the University. For the RJ Hoyman Scholarships, students who are scheduled to enroll at the university and who have demonstrated commitment to LGBTQ issues are eligible. Preference given to first-year freshmen or community college transfer students and first-generation college students.
Amount: $2,000 for The John R. Moore Scholarship, varies.
Deadline: Varies, check website.
This scholarship is specifically for school counseling graduates (so is not school-wide), and is awarded to people who demonstrate “outstanding dedication and vision for equitable conditions in urban schools”. The project has several priority areas, including an LGBTQ one, which aims to advance LGBT scholarship within the field of school counseling.
Eligibility: Applicants must show experience in community service and working in under-resourced youth. The award will be given to a School Counseling graduate student who is committed to LGBTQ issues in the school context.
Amount: The award is given in the form of an hourly wage for completed fieldwork.
Deadline: August and December