Enrollment Tips

5 Ways for Latinos to Pay for Grad School

By The Room 241 Team February 27, 2013

Anyone considering pursuing their master degree or doctorate has to also plan how they will pay for grad school. Scholarships, grants and loans are the options available to most people. Loans, however, should be a choice of last resort. Sometimes loans can have high interest rates and they all, of course, must be repaid. If you’re working while attending school, you’re probably already juggling the responsibilities of your home life and your job as well as studies. Think strategically about how you plan to fund your education. If you qualify for enough scholarships and grants, then you won’t have to add the stress of finding a way to pay off student loans.

Options for Latinos to help pay for graduate school

If you are of Latino descent, there are a number of financial aid programs you may qualify for while you pursue your post-graduate degree. The following is an overview of five of them.


  • The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational fund has two graduate-level scholarship programs: one for law students and one for student activists
  • The law school program awards five to 10 scholarships of $5,000 each every year. The DREAM act scholarship is awarded to graduate students who have proven themselves outstanding supporters of immigrant rights.
  • For more information and a downloadable scholarship resource guide, visit the scholarship page of the MALDEF website.

Chicana/Latina Foundation

  • The Chicana/Latina foundation, started in 1977, awards annually as many as 35 merit-based scholarships of $1,500 each.
  • The submission deadline is March 18. To qualify, applicants must be a female student enrolled in a Northern California college or university. Graduate students must maintain a 3.0 GPA and must commit to 10 hours of public service once they have been selected.
  • For further scholarship guidelines and to apply online, visit ChicanaLatina.org.

The Hispanic Scholarship Fund Institute

  • The Hispanic Scholarship Fund offers a searchable database of scholarships that are available to Hispanic students.
  • While the qualifications of each scholarship vary, generally students will be required to submit an essay, a letter of reference, a writing sample, their transcripts and an enrollment verification form.
  • To search the database for scholarships, visit the HSFI scholarship directory.

Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley

  • The Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley offers three scholarships annually funded by the Hispanic Women’s Council of Northern California.
  • Each $1,000 scholarship is awarded to a woman attending an accredited college or university and pursuing a degree in the fields of psychology, economics or liberal arts.
  • For more information about this program, go to the HFSV Education webpage.

Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU)

  • The HACU sponsors four scholarships that range from $2,000 to $5,000: the Aetna Nursing Scholarship, the NASCAR – Wendell Scott Sr. Award, the Travelers Scholarship and the United Health Foundation – Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities Scholarship.
  • To qualify for these scholarships, an applicant must demonstrate a financial need as determined by the FAFSA (see below), meet individual scholarship criteria and attend a HACU member institution in the United States or Puerto Rico. The scholarship application process opens in the spring.
  • For more information about these scholarships, visit the HACU website and click on the “scholarships” tab.

One way to start your search

The best place to start your search for your post-graduate student aid is the U.S. Government’s Federal Student Aid website. There you will find information about the Federal Student Aid program. An office of the Department of Education, the program is the largest provider of student aid in the U.S., awarding over $150 billion in grants, loans and federal work study programs every year. Millions of Americans who otherwise could not have gone on to college have taken advantage of this generous program to further their educations and improve their lives.

To start the process, you will want to fill out and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online. The information that you provide will be used by universities, colleges and scholarship programs to determine if you qualify for need-based scholarships and grants. The FAFSA is also used to determine if you qualify to receive Federal aid in the form of Pell grants or subsidized student loans.

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