College Resources for Minority Students

Resources, Tools and Expert Guidance

Minority students seeking higher education have more options and support than they might think. According to a 2011 report by the American Council on Education, overall college enrollment grew 10 percent over 20 years, and minority enrollment grew 56 percent over 10 years; however, the percentage of white students in higher education still heavily outweighs all other minority groups combined. Given that the minority population is set to overtake the majority within 30 years, it’s important to address the disparities in education. Through recommendations by groups like the Young Invincibles, federal initiatives and steps individual colleges are taking to increase minority enrollment and success, this gap can be closed. College-seeking minorities should tap into all available resources—a sampling of which has been narrowed down by category below— to ensure a fruitful education and transition into their chosen profession.

Resource Roundup

Such a variety of resources are available to minorities seeking higher education that they have been divided into categories: Education & Advocacy; Housing, Food & Living; National Resources; Campus Resources; and Career/Job Resources & Networking. These resources cover topics ranging from financial readiness tools, grants that could cover housing and food expenses, political involvement and student organizations. Because many minority students may be the first in the family to go to college, first-generation student information has been included.

Education & Advocacy

  • Race and Ethnicity as a Barrier to Opportunity: A Blueprint for Higher Education Equity.

    Young Invincibles’ report details the disparities of minorities’ educational opportunities, college graduation rates and success post-graduation while issuing federal recommendations. This article helps understand some of the issues minorities face in higher education.

  • How Can We Improve College Success for Underserved Students? Through Early, Sustained, and Multifaceted Support.

    This Education Solutions Initiative through NYU outlines strategies that would improve underserved students’ college success: early intervention, transitional support and sustained support.

  • Young Invincibles.

    Young Invincibles aims to help young people have a greater voice in politics and promotes economic well-being of the generation. One focus of the group is promoting diversity, and higher education is one of the four main issues they tackle.

  • American Council on Education.

    The American Council on Education seeks to address the issues surrounding equal opportunities for minorities and underserved populations on U.S. college campuses.

  • The Techstars Foundation.

    The foundation aims to create more diversity in the tech entrepreneur world through collaborations with non-profits, corporations and individuals to provide grants, scholarships and sponsorships.

  • Thurgood Marshall College Fund.

    Through scholarships, programs, talent sourcing and advocacy, the Thurgood Marshall College Fund serves as a voice for historically black colleges and universities and their students.

  • Are You a First-Generation College Student?

    First-generation college students, which includes minority students of low-income or immigrant parents, can find facts and expert tips through the Community for Accredited Online Schools for success in college and beyond.

  • Scholarships & Financial Aid for Minority Students.

    LearnHowToBecome.org covers the necessary details pertaining to minority students obtaining higher education, namely how to prepare financially for college and related costs through expert advice.

  • American Indian Higher Education Consortium.

    The 38 U.S. Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) are united through the consortium to address policies relating to American Indian higher education.

  • Demos: Higher Education.

    Demos, a public policy organization dedicated to equality, has a section of publications devoted to Higher Education. These cover topics such as college without debt, loan types and risks and detailed student debt and financial security articles by race.

Housing, Food & Living

  • National Urban League.

    One of the National Urban League’s programs is devoted to housing and community development, which provides tools of financial literacy, foreclosure prevention and homeownership preparation.

  • Pell Grant.

    The federal Pell Grant program awarded through the U.S. Department of Education is a needs-based grant that allocates money based partially on housing and living expenses, in addition to other schooling-related costs.

  • Student Support Services Program.

    Another federal U.S. Department of Education-awarded grant program, which may be combined with the Pell Grant, assists students in all educational avenues, as well as providing temporary housing for low-income or homeless students during college breaks.

  • Sublet.com.

    This website connects college students in need of housing to cheaper alternatives than renting homes and apartments. Students search the subletting results in their desired area for free.

  • 2-1-1.

    Anyone in the U.S. needing assistance with a variety of services, including food and nutrition, housing and utilities, can find their local 2-1-1 organization and see if they qualify for help.

  • Feeding America.

    Students can search through a nationwide database of community food banks to find a location nearby. Feeding America strives to fight hunger in the U.S. by providing free food to those who qualify.

  • American Campus Communities.

    Students can find off-campus living at a variety of price points by searching the ACC listings for local apartment listings specifically serving college student communities.

  • Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation.

    The College Housing Assistance Program awards funds to students in need of financial assistance for housing while enrolled full-time toward their first bachelor’s degree.

  • UNCF College Readiness.

    The United Negro College Fund not only provides a host of scholarships for black students but also college readiness resources, which touch on financial education, and how to apply for financial assistance.

  • FAFSA.

    The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is a needs-based financial aid program. If a qualified student receives FAFSA aid, that money may be used on housing and food expenses with any money left over after first paying tuition and fees.

National Resources

  • Upward Bound.

    The U.S. Department of Education’s program takes high school students either from low-income families or with parents who do not have a bachelor’s degree and helps them prepare for their higher education pursuits.

  • Office of Postsecondary Education—Programs.

    This U.S. Department of Education office lists programs and colleges related to Native American, black, Asian and other minority students’ interests and needs.

  • College Access Challenge Grant Program.

    This DOE program’s grant services include preparing low-income students for success in higher education and provides career prep, financial prep, FAFSA assistance or student loan assistance.

  • Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund.

    The APIASF provides scholarships to eligible students who are more likely to be low-income or poverty-level, be the first in the family to attend college or otherwise represent the underserved community.

  • Hispanic Association of Colleges & Universities.

    HACU members receive services related to scholarships, internships, exchange student opportunities, professional development and access to conferences and events. HACU represents more than 470 colleges in the U.S., Puerto Rico, Latin America and Spain.

  • Gates Millennium Scholars Program.

    The scholarship program aims to financially assist qualified minorities to complete degrees in the fields of computer science, education, engineering, library science, mathematics, public health and the sciences, where minority populations are underrepresented.

  • National Indian Education Association.

    Student members of the NIEA benefit from community resources aimed at helping Indian students succeed in school to scholarship and college and career prep resources.

  • Poise Foundation Post-Secondary Scholarships.

    These scholarships are geared toward helping African-Americans who meet a variety of criteria from financial need to descendants of slaves or from specific areas to fund their college or other post-secondary schooling.

  • Hispanic-Serving Institutions.

    HSIs, a term used by the U.S. Department of Education, are accredited higher education institutions that have a Hispanic population of 25 percent or more. HSIs seek to make successful post-secondary education for Hispanics a reality.

  • Historically Black Colleges & Universities.

    Find a list of HBCUs on the U.S. Department of Education website. HBCUs are accredited universities that provide an education to students of all races but with specific history and programs that benefit African-Americans.

Campus Resources

  • Alpha Pi Omega sorority.

    This American Indian-founded sorority has 21 chapters across the U.S. One of the sorority’s missions is to preserve the members’ Native American heritage.

  • National Pan-Hellenic Council.

    The council is a collection of historically minority-based Greek sororities and fraternities that aim to provide a sense of community, strive for academic excellence and give back to the community.

  • National Black Student Union.

    The NBSU works to enhance black undergrad students’ college experience. The NBSU has 23 collegiate members across the U.S.

  • American Indian Student Association.

    While there is no organized national AISA, many campuses across the U.S. have an association by this same name. AISA strives to preserve their culture and educate other students about it.

  • League of United Latin American Citizens.

    LULAC campus organizations mirror the national association’s goals of obtaining equal education by Latinos. LULAC hosts an annual youth conference in the spring.

  • SACNAS.

    The Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science chapters can be found in colleges nationwide. SACNAS fosters education of these cultural groups to be prepared for professional STEM careers.

  • Multicultural Student Union.

    This college cultural club is not connected through a main organization; however, organizations go by this name or a similar one at many higher education institutions. The MSUs encourage heritage sharing and professional development.

  • Capoeira.

    A club that’s gaining momentum at a number of U.S. colleges is capoeira, an African-Brazilian martial art that combines dance, music and acrobatics. Students can learn its cultural history while benefiting from the fitness aspect.

  • Sabor Latino.

    While there is no national organization, some colleges choose to celebrate Latino culture through Sabor Latino dance clubs or events.

  • National Society of Black Engineers.

    Black undergrad and grad student engineers qualify for the student membership option of NSBE, which assists with college prep and hosts scholarships, networking and events.

Career/Job Resources & Networking

  • INROADS.

    INROADS provides educational and employment support to high-achieving students, including services such as mentoring, paid internships, coaching sessions and workforce solutions. Eighty percent of members are first-generation college students.

  • Jackie Robinson Foundation.

    The foundation awards scholarships and fellowships and provides additional support services through its “42 Strategies for Success” curriculum, mentoring and job placement, among other resources.

  • Asian American Journalists Association.

    The AAJA is devoted to promoting newsroom diversity by connecting Asian-American and Pacific Islander journalists with job opportunities in the field. This service is available with a membership, which is $25 for students.

  • Professional Diversity Network.

    This job connection resource is designed to meet the needs of employers looking for workers of a specific race to promote diversity in the workplace. The resource has seven elements, including ones specifically for Hispanics, blacks and Asians.

  • NAACP Job Finder.

    The NAACP job finder tool helps minorities discover career opportunities through employers who value diversity. The NAACP also hosts networking events and conferences.

  • National Black MBA Association.

    Despite the name, the association is not limited to only black members with MBAs, though many are; the organization promotes professional development through conferences, training and job resources.

  • Minorities in Media Connect.

    Marketers, journalists and creatives of color who are mid-level professionals or above can find advanced and leadership positions in the field through this organization.

  • National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives.

    NOBLE connects blacks in law enforcement to career opportunities, training conferences and events, networking and an online training center.

  • National Association of Asian American Professionals.

    NAAAP organizes career fairs, job listings, conferences, virtual training programs and links to employee resource groups. NAAAP connects members who are community- and career-driven.

  • National Congress of American Indians.

    NCAI, the oldest and largest American Indian and Alaskan Native organization, covers a broad range of issues affecting natives. NCAI also provides fellowships and internships, scholarships and job listings, among other resources.

Spotlight: Colleges that Focus on Minority Students

Minority students have many factors to consider when choosing the school that is right for them. This list of colleges encompasses components that may be of interest, ranging from schools that cater to specific minority populations, institutions with a higher-than-average minority make-up or colleges with special focus on recruiting minorities and ensuring their academic advancement.

  • Brown University.

    The Minority Peer Counselor Program (MPC), created in 1973, connects first-year minority college students to their upperclassman peer mentors. The MPC hosts workshops on race, class, sexism and homophobia.

  • University of Texas—San Antonio.

    This Hispanic-serving institution (HSI) is dedicated to its multicultural community, which is 52 percent Hispanic, and ranks as one of the best colleges in the U.S. for minorities, veterans and women.

  • Northeastern State University.

    The university’s rich Cherokee Nation history contributes to its 20 percent American Indian or Alaskan Native makeup of the student body. NSU promotes equality in education and enrichment experiences.

  • Salish Kootenai College.

    The college provides higher education and community and for Native Americans and seeks to preserve the history of the Confederated Tribes of the Flathead Nation.

  • Haskell Indian Nations University.

    The university provides a tuition-free education to American Indians and Alaskan Natives through funding from the Bureau of Indian Education. Students pay only fees per semester.

  • Clemson University.

    Clemson’s Minority Student Success Initiative strives to give minorities the tools they need to perform well in school and increase the university’s minority graduation rate.

  • City College of San Francisco.

    The Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institution (AANAPISI) is made up of 73 percent minorities and runs an Equal Access to Success Emergency Task Force.

  • University of Maryland—College Park.

    Another AANAPISI school, the university runs a Diversity program directed toward retention and success of multicultural staff and students to better serve the population.

  • Spelman College.

    Spelman is a historically black college for African-American women. The National Science Foundation has recognized it as the leading producer of black female doctorate earners in the sciences.

  • Harvard College.

    The Harvard Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relations sponsors programs and events that promote intercultural awareness. In addition, the college has a First Generation Program teaching college awareness for first-generation college students.

  • Columbia College.

    The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee hosts training and events and related clubs and organizations. In addition, each undergrad must complete a multicultural course.

  • West Texas A&M University.

    The Diversity and Inclusion Office’s Excellence Through People program seeks to increase the number of minority students by providing tools and environment with which to succeed.

  • University of California.

    UC-HBCU Initiative’s Fellowship Program partners with historically black colleges with research collaborations and seeks to increase the number of minority Ph.D. students. The college also has a FirstGen program for first-generation students.

  • University of North Dakota.

    The university’ takes part in federal TRIO programs like Upward Bound and Talent Search, which provide skills, background, preparation and financial support to first-generation, underprepared or disadvantaged students.

  • Stanford University.

    While 33 percent of the student population is white, the other two-thirds is a blend of ethnicities. Its Community Center Resources include centers for Asian-Americans, blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans, and first-generation students.

What Colleges Can Do to Better Advocate for Minorities

Many colleges are already taking steps to recruit and hire minority students and staff; however, the disparity is still there. Among the best ways for colleges to advocate for minorities include mental health awareness, social and cultural events and even creating scholarships or donating to causes that make higher education more obtainable for minorities. Margarita Cavazos-Chappell, an instructor and coordinator with Grand Valley State University TRIO Upward Bound program, lent her voice to the issue.

  • “Listen to students of color, hear their stories and experiences and create spaces for them to share, be heard and believed.”

  • “Acknowledge national and local news of violence, oppression and injustice against people of color. Take a moment of silence, a day off, provide safe spaces to talk and free counseling. These events are traumatizing and often ignored by PWIs (predominantly white institutions).”

  • “Provide mental health awareness and resources designed for students of color.” The college students that Cavazos-Chappell contacted thought this was the most important factor.

  • “Hire people of color—professors, counselors, admissions and financial aid representatives and advisers.” She referred to an IZA Institute of Labor Economics study that discovered a profound positive effect of a minority having a teacher of color early in their education.

  • “Learn about the campus climate for students of color: Is it a friendly place? A hostile place? A disconnected place? A welcoming place? Determine why and create steps toward a solution.”

  • “Create a culture of inclusion. Often students of color may be the only one in a classroom full of white people and can feel like they do not belong. How and where are you recruiting?” It’s important for students to be with “their people,” whatever that looks like, to have a support system to get through tough times.

  • “Educate campus police, university staff and residence hall staff on racial profiling and inherent bias.”

  • “Host social and cultural events representing backgrounds and interests of students of color.” Examples include notable speakers, concerts and entertainment of minority interests, international food festivals and education about Juneteenth.

  • “Develop campus programs designed for students of color focused on academic and personal support, community and retention. Examples at Grand Valley State University are Laker Familia and Black Excellence.”

  • “Determine the needs of students of color on your campus and ways to support them voiced by them. Consider the quote, ‘Nothing about us, without us, is for us.’”

Christy Rubio, a freshman at Michigan State University, Julio Garcia, a sophomore at Michigan State University, and Clara Berna, a junior at Grand Valley State University, contributed ideas and feedback for this list to Cavazos-Chappell.

Financial Aid Resources for Student Minorities

For more information on financial aid, please see the below links: