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Master List of Scholarships for Low Income Students

Master List of Scholarships for Low Income Students

Think you can’t afford college? Think again. I’m a college student and know what it feels like to have finances a bit tight, but with scholarships for low income students, you can find ways to afford a higher education!

Going to college could increase opportunities to earn more money.

It was estimated that by 2020, about 65% of jobs would require a college education. In 2015, only 62% of high school graduates from middle-income families and 58% of high school graduates from low-income families enrolled in college, according to the College Board. In addition, unemployment rates in 2015 were 6% higher for those age 25-34 who only had a high school diploma! Plus, those with a bachelor’s degree earn more on average.

Don’t wait or you’ll miss out on valuable opportunities!

It is often easier to save for college if you start at a young age. Your senior year of high school is going to be too late! I have seen other kids wait until the last minute and it is tragic when they realize they missed out on financial aid and college opportunities because they waited until the last minute.

Start thinking about paying for college around middle school; it might be the motivation you need to get good grades through high school! Plus, checkout the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation which gives a 5-year scholarship for 7th graders in financial need, providing educational advisors, money for extra-curricular activities, networking opportunities and more. It’s never too early to start preparing!

RELATED: Here are 50+ scholarships for single parents!

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scholarships for low income

There are many opportunities and scholarships for low income students!

It is important to realize that every scholarship has specific requirements, so make sure you qualify before you apply!

High School Opportunities and Scholarships

College Possible is an after-school program for low income students their junior and senior years of high school.  It connects them with a coach with whom they meet one on one with. Part of the curriculum includes touring college campuses, applying to colleges, financial aid and scholarships.

See the Courage to Grow scholarship under national scholarships for low income college students.

Education Trust works to better the school system by providing equal opportunities for low income students and students of color. They analyze data, look for gaps in equality, and strive to close them.

Equal Opportunity Schools helps low income students and students of color in high school plan for AP and IB courses (AP and IB courses can allow high school students to start getting college credit before they even graduate high school!). Their goal is to help students of all backgrounds succeed in America’s top high school programs.

Imentor connects low income students with mentors who help them succeed in high school, get in to college, and achieve their goals.

Jack Kent Cooke Foundation College Scholarship will give 40 awards valued at $40,000 to high school seniors who demonstrate financial need and have high standardized test scores.

OneGoal is a teacher-led program that identifies low income students and helps students achieve graduation and higher education. They help students increase their college options, breakdown enrollment processes, and more.

QuestBridge offers programs, scholarships, and networks to help low income students achieve the same heights as their peers. One of their notable tools is National College Match which helps high school seniors apply to colleges and scholarships and get admissions info and financial aid for some of the nation’s most prestigious schools. They also give awards called Quest for Excellence which could include a free laptop, software, or travel to make college visits.

National Scholarships for Low Income College Students 

Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund gives Asian and Pacific Islander Americans from disadvantaged backgrounds assistance with the transition from high school to college and individual advisement.

AFAS General Henry H. Arnold Education Grant Program is a needs-based grant for low income students with ties to the air force. Grants will be awarded up to $4,000 depending on need.

Courage to Grow gives a monthly $500 scholarship to juniors and seniors in high school and college students who demonstrate their courage to grow. The application is simply a 250-word essay on why you think you deserve the scholarship. And what’s great about this one is if you don’t get it, then you can re-apply every month!

Crane Fund gives scholarships for low income students whose husband or father cannot contribute to their education due to disability or death, or for female undergraduate students whose husband is deceased. There are multiple scholarships available-they generally grant four per year- and amounts vary, but the average amount is $1,300.

The Hispanic Scholarship Fund has scholarships for low income students who are Latino for up to $6,000 a year!

The I’m First scholarship is for low income students who are the first in their family to attend college. They give 8 scholarships a year of $1,000.

The Gates Millennium Scholarship  is for low income students of a racial minority. Several recipients are chosen and the average award is $12,000.

The Patsy Takemoto Mink Education Foundation gives low income mothers a scholarship. Five awards of up to $5,000 each are given each year. There are many other scholarship opportunities for both moms and single parents. I recommend using one of the search engines towards the end of this article for more information.

The Need Scholarship is for students who still need help paying for college after all other financial aid and any family contributions. Awards for different scholarships vary from $1,000 to $1,500. They also offer college preparatory enrichment services, annual Historical Black Colleges and University (HBCU) Tours, and access to college and career education training programs, to name a few.

NHLA Education Fund offers four different scholarships for low income students in federally assisted housing. The amount varies by scholarship and by year.

State Scholarships for Low Income College Students 

BAFTX Susan Howard Community Service Award is specifically for Texas residents who demonstrate significant community service and consideration is also based on annual household income. The award is for up to $5,000!

Bruce and Marjorie Sundlon Scholarship is for up to $1,500 for residents of Rhode Island for students who are low-income single parents. Find many other grants and scholarships for Rhode Island residents here.

College Bound Scholarship can help low income Washington State residents attend college. Students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunches during the 7th and 8th grade may qualify, if they pledge to graduate with at least a C average and no felony convictions.

Additional Resources for Low Income College Students 

MDRC supplements low income students in college by helping them take the stress off of balancing work and school. It works like a paycheck. Every other week, students receive a check with their extra aid after tuition and fees.

Besides scholarships, you can also qualify for federal and state aid!

Always fill out a FAFSA.

According to the College Board, for the 2017-18 school year, the average student (attending in their own state, full-time, at a 4-year college) received over half of their tuition paid for in both grants and federal tax benefits! In fact, there are four types of federal aid—grants, loans, tax credits, and work-studies. To receive federal financial aid, you must apply through a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid-note that the application is free and you will not have to pay to apply).

Grants are based on income, and if you qualify for them then you don’t have to pay them back (unless you withdraw from school)! You can receive $5,000 or more tax-free for your higher education. It is important to realize that Pell Grants are only for undergraduates.

Loans are also offered based on your income. It is borrowed money that you must pay back with interest. I would advise using loans only as a last resort since student debt can really pile up and follow you until they’re paid off. If you do get into student debt, check out some of our advice on paying back student loans.

Tax credits give breaks to taxpayers. For example, you can receive up to $2,500 per student per year in the American Opportunity Credit! In addition, up to $1,000 of that can be refunded directly to you if you don’t owe any taxes! I’d recommend talking to a tax preparer about claiming education tax credit.

Work-Study programs allow you to earn money to pay for school. The program helps you find a part-time job, in your field of study if possible, to help you pay for school.

The Federal Student Aid office has a short video that explains their financial aid.

You can get state financial aid and grants, too!

Each state gives both grants and financial aid just like the federal government for low income students. Some also have tax credits. You can either contact your state grant agency or visit their website to find out what’s available for you.

The Military also has some great education benefits. If you are a veteran, service member, spouse, or dependent, you may qualify for education benefits through the VA. You can also see my other post for more info on military scholarships.

Still looking for Scholarships? Here are more ways to pay for college!

Additionally, you can find hundreds of scholarships for low income students online. Here are a few of my favorite scholarship search engines:

Getting into college is hard. Paying for college is hard. Budgeting with a low income is hard. Despite all that, you can do it! You might need to use both scholarships for low income students and some federal aid.

Of course, don’t forget to take advantage of student discounts and free stuff! You can get SO much for free and discounted as a college student! You can find a list of free and discounted things here. 

Disclaimer: There are certainly a lot of scams for scholarships and FAFSA funds out there. Be careful who you give you information to and research the scholarship and grant before applying.

Get more free stuff!


Friday 5th of October 2018

These are great resources! Most are for low income high school seniors though. Can you find any for current college students? So they do not have to leave school? Thank you.

Chloe Skupnick

Sunday 7th of October 2018

Hi Rachel, I'll add that to our list to research in the future! Thanks!



Sunday 29th of July 2018

Hi My niece got into The University of Hartford and left after the first semester because her mother could not pay the tuition. She is attending a community college and owes the University $5000. They are holding on to her grades so she has to resit the courses she already passed. My sister is a single mother of two hardworking girl and on Government assistance. I'm hart broken that my niece can't go to a 4 year college after all her hard work. How can I help?

Nicole Thelin

Monday 30th of July 2018

That is so sad, Patricia! Did she apply for FAFSA student aid? Scholarships can be a big help and I would also recommend this article by Amelia. I hope this helps!


Tuesday 26th of June 2018

Thanks so much for this list! Most all of my sons college is paid for each year, we're left with about $7000, not too bad out of $50,000. We're just looking at a way to pay that extra.


Tuesday 26th of June 2018

Hi, Star! That's incredible! I'm so glad that this was helpful to you. We're working on additional lists of scholarships also. Our new writer, Amelia, actually makes a profit by going to college because she acquires so many scholarships. Hopefully we'll have even more helpful information for you soon! :)