Financial Aid for Minority Students

With the number of minority students enrolled in higher learning institutions in the United States steadily increasing, scholarship opportunities available for them are expanding, too. Criminal justice scholarships for minorities are available as well, including ones for undocumented students. Financial aid applicants are often required to provide documentation proving their ethnicity. For example, many scholarships for Native Americans require a Certificate of Indian Blood, or citizenship cards. Professional organizations for each minority group provide members with opportunities to network, explore job opportunities, and share ideas on how to succeed professionally and promote equality.

Scholarships for African American Criminal Justice Students

African American Criminal Justice Students

Irlet Anderson Scholarship Award $3,500

Candidates must be African American high school seniors with a 3.8 minimum GPA. They must be pursuing a career in criminal justice or law enforcement. Students must demonstrate financial need to be considered. View Scholarship

Charles Fonseca Scholarship $2,000

Candidates must be African American high school seniors with a 3.8 minimum GPA, pursuing a career in criminal justice or law enforcement. Candidates must demonstrate financial need to be considered. View Scholarship

Edna R. Anthony Scholarship $1,000

Applicants must be women of color who attend a historically black college or university (HBCU) and have a 2.5 minimum GPA. Students must be pursuing a major in criminal justice, nursing, or journalism. View Scholarship

Ruth D. Peterson Fellowship for Racial and Ethnic Diversity $6,000

Applicants must be students of color, and be accepted into a criminal justice doctoral program. The American Society of Criminology presents three fellowship awards each year. View Scholarship

Dorothy Bracey/Janice Joseph Minority and Women New Scholar Award $1,000

Candidates must be minority female students who have received their Ph.D. within the last seven years. Candidates must be new scholars in research, service, and teaching. View Scholarship

Professional Organizations for African American Students

Scholarships for Hispanic and Latino Criminal Justice Students

Hispanic and Latino Criminal Justice Students

Hispanic American Police Command Officers Association Scholarship $2,500

Students must be pursuing their undergraduate or graduate education, and have extracurricular activities, plus awards or honors. Applicants must submit an essay. View Scholarship

Law Enforcement Explorers Scholarship $1,000

Candidates must be registered as Law Enforcement Explorers in good standing with their sponsoring agency. They must be Hispanic or Latino, have a 3.0 minimum GPA, and provide three letters of recommendation. View Scholarship

George A. Strait Minority Scholarship $5,000

Students must be members of a minority group, have meaningful law library experience, and intend to pursue a career in law librarianship. Applicants must demonstrate financial need. View Scholarship

Adelente Fund Gilbert G. Pompa Memorial Scholarship $1,000

Candidates must be Hispanic or Latino college students pursuing a pre-law program or planning to attend law school. They must have a minimum 2.75 GPA. The selection committee prefers female students of Hispanic descent. View Scholarship

CUNY Becas Scholarship Program $6,330

Applicants must be undergraduate or graduate students with a commitment to serve in the Mexican community. Students must demonstrate financial need and academic achievement. View Scholarship

Professional Organizations for Hispanic and Latino Students

  • Hispanic American Police Command Officers Association This is the oldest U.S. association of Hispanic American command officers from criminal justice agencies and law enforcement. Member officers work at the county, municipal, state, and federal levels. Members are committed to promoting Hispanic American professionals in the criminal justice and law enforcement systems, and provides criminal justice scholarships for minorities.
  • The National Organization of Hispanics in Criminal Justice This nonprofit provides training and other career resources for Hispanic professionals in law enforcement, corrections, and the courts.
  • Association of Latino Professionals for America The longest-standing professional organization for Latinos, this association comprises more than 81,000 members in 45 professional chapters and 160 student chapters across the United States. It hosts events throughout the year, and offers a career center where members can submit their resumes and apply to positions listed on the job board.

Scholarships for Native American Criminal Justice Students

Native American Criminal Justice Students

AAIA Sequoyah Graduate Scholarship $1,500

Candidates must be Native American graduate students. The scholarship does not automatically renew, but students can apply on a yearly basis. View Scholarship

American Indian College Fund Full Circle Scholarship Program Varies

Students must be of Native American or Alaskan Native descent, and attending non-tribal private or public universities. They must be members of a recognized tribe and hold a 2.0 minimum GPA. Candidates must demonstrate financial need. View Scholarship

Bois Forte Band of Chippewa Scholarship Program $5,000

Candidates must be members of the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa Indians. They must be enrolled in an accredited U.S. college or university, and have a minimum 2.0 GPA. High school graduates who have been accepted to a university are eligible to receive this scholarship. View Scholarship

Chickasaw Nation Governor’s Scholarship $500

Students must be Chickasaw and have a Chickasaw Nation citizenship card. They must be high school seniors with a minimum 3.9 GPA, have been chosen as valedictorian or salutatorian, or be enrolled in an undergraduate, graduate, or doctoral program. This scholarship doesn’t have blood quantum restrictions or geographical boundaries. View Scholarship

Fort Peck Tribes Scholarship Program $2,000

Students must be members of the Sioux or Assiniboine tribes in Montana, and enrolled in an undergraduate program with a minimum 2.0 GPA. Students must submit their grades to the scholarship committee every semester. They must also provide a Certificate of Indian Blood. View Scholarship

Professional Organizations for Native American Students

  • National American Indian Court Judges Association This national organization’s members include tribal justice personnel, plus others who are devoted to strengthening and supporting tribal justice systems. The association provides training and seminars to enhance members’ professional ability in criminal justice.
  • National Indian Justice Center The justice center is an independent national resource for tribal governments and Native communities. It aims to deliver and design legal research, education, and technical assistance programs to improve the administration of justice in Indian country.
  • National Congress of American Indians This is the largest and oldest organization representing professionals of American Indian and Alaska Native descent. It serves the interests of tribal communities and governments, and promotes a common understanding of how tribes operate in American governments. The congress also works to improve the quality of life for Native American people and communities.

Scholarships for Asian and Pacific Islander Criminal Justice Students

Asian and Pacific Islander Criminal Justice Students

Sho Sato Memorial Scholarship $1,000 – $5,000

Applicants must be members of the Japanese American Citizens League, and be enrolled in a law-related program at a higher learning institution. Candidates must provide a personal statement, plus transcripts and letters of recommendation. They must also demonstrate work experience and community involvement. View Scholarship

Thomas T. Hayashi Memorial Scholarship $1,000 – $5,000

Eligible candidates are members of the Japanese American Citizens League, and are enrolled in a law program at an accredited college or university. Students must submit a personal statement, letters of recommendation, and transcripts, plus evidence of work experience and community involvement. View Scholarship

Minoru Yasui Memorial Scholarship $1,000 – $5,000

Applicants must be members of the Japanese American Citizens League and be enrolled in an education, law, or sociology program at an accredited college or university. Students must submit letters of recommendation, transcripts, a personal statement, and evidence of work experience and community involvement. View Scholarship

Lena Chang Scholarship $2,500

Eligible students are ethnic minorities enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program. Candidates must submit two letters of recommendation, a three-page essay on contributing to peace in the nuclear age, and college transcripts. View Scholarship

Professional Organizations for Asian and Pacific Islander Students

  • Asian Americans Advancing Justice Asian Americans Advancing Justice is a national affiliation comprising organizations that advocate for the social rights of Asian Americans and other minorities. The organization promotes justice, empowers communities, and brings constituents together to strengthen multi-racial democracy.
  • Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center This organization advances the legal and civil rights of Asian Americans by providing legal services. It combines systemic advocacy with community legal education and individual representation.
  • East Coast Asian American Student Union This nonprofit inspires, educates, and empowers people who are interested in Asian American and Pacific Islander issues. Volunteers run the organization, and advocate through outreach to Asian American and Pacific Islander student organizations.

Scholarships for Undocumented Criminal Justice Students

Undocumented Criminal Justice Students

Presidential Fellowship for UCLA Undocumented Students Varies

Applicants must be undocumented master’s or doctorate students attending UCLA. They must have a minimum 3.0 GPA. Students are required to submit a personal statement and one letter of recommendation.

Scholastic Art & Writing Awards $1,000 – $10,000

Students must be graduating high school seniors. Their writing or art portfolio must showcase originality, personal vision or voice, and technical skill. The Gold Medal award is $10,000, and granted to 16 students. The Silver Medal award is $1,000, and granted to 30 students. View Scholarship

Freedom of Religion Foundation Catherine Fahringer Memorial Award $2,500

Students must be the first in their family to attend college. Applicants should be currently or previously homeless, in foster care, undocumented, or LGBTQ. They must also be a high school senior. Students have to provide letters of recommendation and proof of community involvement. View Scholarship

California Strawberry Scholarship Varies

Students must be the children of strawberry fieldworkers in California, and be enrolled at a trade school, college, or university. Students must have a minimum 2.0 GPA to be considered. View Scholarship

Aurelio ‘Larry’ Jazo Migrant Scholarship $1,000

Students must be migrant farm workers who recently moved to Illinois. They must be pursuing their college education. Students must demonstrate excellent academic achievement and financial need.

Professional Organizations for Undocumented Students

  • Undocumented Immigrants & Allies Knowledge Community This organization focuses on sharing knowledge, research, and resources for undocumented students and students from mixed-status families. It connects its members and encourages them to work together to create resources, gain knowledge, and share job opportunities.
  • Rural Organizing Project The project focuses on political engagement, connecting undocumented citizens and advocating for changes to immigration policy. The organization provides resources to undocumented students and hosts events where they can network and learn about recent policy updates.
  • Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals DACA provides some individuals who immigrated to the United States with a renewable, two-year period of deferred action to prevent deportation. U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services handles DACA applications.

Types of Funding Available for Criminal Justice Students


Scholarships are merit-based financial aid, most commonly awarded to students with high GPAs, community service experience, and extracurricular activities. They are awarded based on criteria determined by the award’s funder or donor. Criteria typically aligns with the funding organization’s goals and views. Students do not have to pay back scholarship money, which is awarded in varying amounts, depending on the funding organization. Students must follow application guidelines and adhere to the deadlines in order to be considered.


Student grants are based on students’ financial need, and can be used for tuition, room and board, fees, books, and other education-related expenses. The two main student grant categories are ethnic and non-ethnic. Ethnic grants are for minority students who face cultural, linguistic, or financial barriers in education. Non-ethnic grants are awarded to students specifically with financial barriers in education. Students’ colleges and universities usually offer grant applications, and grant money does not need to be repaid.


The Federal Work-Study Program is a federally funded initiative through which students can earn education funds by working part-time while enrolled in a degree program. More than 3,400 higher learning institutions participate in the work-study program, which is offered to students in specific majors, who demonstrate financial need. Participants are often required to maintain a set grade point average to continue their work-study program, and students can usually only work up to a certain number of hours per week.

Federal Student Loans

Federal student loans include subsidized and unsubsidized loans. Subsidized loans accrue interest that is paid by the government while the borrower is in school, whereas students borrowing unsubsidized loans must pay all the interest. Borrowers do not have to repay their federal student loans until they graduate, leave school, or fall below part-time enrollment status. Interest rates are fixed and often lower than credit card interest rates. Credit checks are not required for federal loans, except for PLUS loans, which are for graduate and professional students or parents. Federal student loans are often tax-deductible, with no prepayment penalty fee.

Private Loans

Private loans are offered by banks, credit unions, schools, and state agencies. They are usually more expensive than federal student loans, and often require payments while students are still in school. Private loans are not subsidized, so the student assumes full responsibility for paying loan interest. These loans have variable interest rates, sometimes higher than 18%, which can heavily increase the total repayment amount. To obtain a private loan, students usually must have an established credit record, since the borrower’s credit usually determines the interest rate.

Filing out the FAFSA

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) lets students apply for financial aid from work-study programs, student loans, and federal grants. Many colleges and state governments use students’ FAFSA information to determine their eligibility for state- and school-funded financial aid. Some private financial aid providers can also access FAFSA information. Financial aid eligibility is determined by several factors, including citizenship status, academic achievement, criminal record, and financial status.

To fill out the FAFSA, students need their social security number, most recent federal income tax return, alien registration number (if they are not a U.S. citizen), bank statements, investment records, and records of untaxed income. They must also create an FSA ID to sign documents electronically. Most FAFSA applications take less than an hour to complete.

Scholarship Application Tips

Determine Your Eligibility

Many criminal justice scholarships for minorities require students to demonstrate financial need. The first step in determining eligibility is identifying the scholarship amount, so the student can specifically determine how that amount would help offset their education cost. For instance, a $2,000 scholarship might help pay for a set amount of classes for the student. Once students describe how they would use the funds, they can then express why they need the financial aid.

Research Scholarship Requirement

Most criminal justice scholarships for minorities require students to be enrolled in a criminal justice or law program. Students need to research scholarship requirements to make sure the program they are enrolled in qualifies them to apply. They also need to make sure their scholarship foundation of choice accepts their degree program’s accrediting agency.

Provide Proof of Membership

Criminal justice scholarships for minorities often require students to prove their minority status. Native American scholarships frequently require students to be part of a federally recognized tribe. In those instances, students should make sure their tribe is federally recognized before applying, and prepare to provide citizenship or tribal cards as proof of their heritage and tribal membership. Other minority scholarships mandate that their applicants be members of a specific minority organization, so applicants should make sure they have proof of their membership.

Visit a Campus Writing Center

Essays are often an application requirement of criminal justice scholarships for minorities. Essay prompts usually give a specific topic or question, and students should research it thoroughly before they begin writing. Applicants who need help writing their essay can visit their campus’s writing center.

Participate in Extracurricular Activities

Community involvement and extracurricular activities often set scholarship applicants apart. Minority students should pursue opportunities in their community or school’s extracurricular department. Students can specifically seek out projects that would appeal to the scholarship foundation.

Additional Scholarship Resources for Criminal Justice Students

  • serves as a database for students to look for different scholarship opportunities. Students can use the site to search for scholarships by type, amount, and other criteria. The site also provides a link to the scholarship’s webpage, a description of the scholarship’s purpose and criteria, and amount.
  • This web database helps students research scholarship and loan opportunities. It prompts students with a series of questions to determine which colleges and types of financial aid suit them best.
  • FAFSA Website The FAFSA website allows students to complete their FAFSA online. The application requires students to provide details including their parents’ income and personal information. Students’ answers determine what types of financial aid, if any, might suit them.
  • This website helps students search for scholarships, grants, and student loans by sorting scholarships into different categories, including minority, athletic, state, student type, degree level, and subject.
  • Sallie Mae Website Sallie Mae is a major educational loan provider, and its websites allows students to research different scholarship opportunities, review tips for writing scholarship essays, and learn more about how to apply for scholarships. They can also research financial aid and learn about student loans.