How Scholarships for Underrepresented Minority Women are Breaking Barriers in Higher Education

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The education system in the United States is not fair for women. Minority women are often left behind, especially when it comes to higher education. Dr. Nadine Haddad suggests, since underrepresented minority women face unique challenges and barriers when it comes to pursuing an advanced degree, scholarships can help level the playing field by providing an opportunity for them to pursue their dreams and achieve success.

Underrepresented Minority Women Are an Important Force in Higher Education

In the United States, women of color are the fastest growing group in higher education. Women’s college enrollment is on the rise, and underrepresented minority women make up a significant portion of this group.

  • In 2016-17, black students made up 8 percent of undergraduate students at 4-year colleges and universities nationwide–a number that has increased by 2 points since 2015-16.*
  • The same year saw Hispanic students account for 14 percent of all undergraduates on campus (up from 12 percent), while Asian Americans comprised 5 percent.*

With such impressive gains in numbers over recent years–and with more still expected as time goes on–it’s easy to see why scholarships for underrepresented minority women are so important when it comes to breaking down barriers in higher education.

How Does a Scholarship Help Women’s College Enrollment?

Scholarships are one of the most powerful tools for helping students pay for college. According to a recent report from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), financial aid is a significant barrier to higher education. Eighty percent of families struggle with paying for college, and scholarships help them do just that by reducing or eliminating tuition bills altogether. Scholarships also provide supplementary support for living expenses, books and supplies–or even just parking passes! The possibilities are endless when it comes to how scholarships can open doors in your academic career.

But what about scholarships specifically designed for women? How do those work?

What Are the Types of Scholarships Available for Underrepresented Minority Women?

  • Scholarships based on race. These scholarships are awarded to individuals who meet certain criteria for being a member of an underrepresented minority group. For example, one might be eligible if they are African American and/or Native American.
  • Scholarships based on gender. These scholarships are available to female students who want to pursue their undergraduate or graduate education at colleges and universities across America.
  • Scholarships based on ethnicity and gender: Some schools offer both types of awards so that they can attract the best candidates possible while also helping those who would otherwise be unable to afford higher education due to financial constraints (like most people).
  • Women-only awards–these can include minorities but they don’t have too much room for flexibility because there are already so many different categories already established within this umbrella category so if someone doesn’t fit into any specific category then he/she may not qualify for any funding opportunities unless he/she finds something else entirely unrelated such as his/her own personal connections with someone else within those circles.”

How Do I Apply for Underrepresented Minority Scholarships?

Applying for underrepresented minority scholarships can be a little more complicated than applying for general scholarships, but it’s worth the effort. In order to be considered, you’ll need to meet all of the requirements listed above and submit an essay that outlines your commitment to diversity in higher education. You should also include information about your community involvement and academic record.

If you’ve been awarded an underrepresented minority scholarship before, make sure that you check with the organization that gave it out before reapplying so that they know about any changes in circumstances (like graduating high school early or changing majors).


We hope you’ve gained a better understanding of how scholarships can help women enroll in college and graduate. With the right resources and support, underrepresented minority women can achieve their educational goals. If you’re interested in applying for these scholarships, don’t hesitate! There are many ways to get started–from researching opportunities on our website or contacting organizations directly about their programs.

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