Table of Contents Hide
- What is UNCF and How Was it Founded?
- UNCF Mission and Values
- Types of UNCF Scholarships and Grants
- UNCF Scholarship Eligibility Requirements
- How Much Money Does UNCF Award in Scholarships?
- UNCF Scholarship Application Process
- Top 10 UNCF Scholarships
- UNCF Scholarship Application Tips
- What Can You Do With UNCF Scholarships?
- Notable UNCF Alumni
- UNCF Impact on African American Education
- Frequently Asked Questions About UNCF
- Do I have to attend an HBCU to get UNCF scholarships?
- Can graduate students get UNCF scholarships?
- Is there an age limit for UNCF scholarships?
- Can I apply directly to UNCF for scholarships?
- When are UNCF scholarship deadlines?
- Can I receive multiple UNCF scholarships?
- How and when are scholarship winners notified?
- Where does UNCF scholarship funding come from?
The United Negro College Fund (UNCF Scholarship) provides scholarships and support to help African American students access and succeed in college. As the largest private provider of scholarships for Black students, UNCF has helped more than half a million students earn degrees since its founding in 1944.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explain everything you need to know about UNCF – from its history and mission, to scholarship eligibility, how to apply, and advice for getting the most out of UNCF opportunities as an African American student pursuing higher education.
What is UNCF and How Was it Founded?
The United Negro College Fund is the nation’s largest minority education organization. UNCF was founded in 1944 with the mission to help more African American students attend and graduate from college.
UNCF was started by Dr. Frederick D. Patterson, president of what is now Tuskegee University, along with 27 HBCU presidents and religious and business leaders. They joined forces to raise funds to support private Black colleges and Black students seeking higher education.
The original founding member schools that received UNCF support included Clark Atlanta University, Dillard University, Hampton University, Howard University, Meharry Medical College, Xavier University of Louisiana, and more.
UNCF began during the Jim Crow era when many Black Americans lacked equal access to higher education. Since then, UNCF has raised over $5.5 billion and helped more than half a million students earn college degrees that are critical to their own economic empowerment and our nation’s future.
UNCF Mission and Values
UNCF is driven by its mission to build a robust and nationally-recognized pipeline of underrepresented students who become highly-qualified college graduates.
Its core values include:
- Equity: Champion equitable access to higher education to create opportunity for marginalized and underrepresented groups.
- Excellence: Uphold high standards for scholarship, ethics and impact.
- Innovation: Embrace creative new solutions and improvements using data, technology and ingenuity.
- Accountability: Maintain transparency and responsibility toward students, donors, HBCUs and the communities served.
UNCF upholds these values while providing scholarship support, student advocacy, institutional strengthening for HBCUs, policy impact, and engagement of donors and volunteers to lift up the next generation of African American college graduates.
Types of UNCF Scholarships and Grants
UNCF administers 400 different scholarship, internship and fellowship programs. These funds help African American students cover tuition, books, room and board, and other expenses to remove financial barriers to completing college.
UNCF scholarship categories include:
- General scholarships: For undergraduate or graduate students based on criteria like academic merit, financial need, field of study and more. Amounts range from $2,500 up to $25,000.
- HBCU-specific: For students planning to attend one of UNCF’s 37 member historically Black colleges and universities.
- STEM majors: Targeted grants for students pursuing science, technology, engineering or math degrees.
- Graduate funding: Awards earmarked for African American students in graduate programs in fields like law, medicine and public health.
- Career-specific: Scholarships for future nurses, engineers, teachers, those entering other professions.
- Internships: Paid summer research, work experience and mentoring opportunities.
- Fellowships: Funding for graduate research projects, dissertations and post-doctoral work.
UNCF manages an extensive portfolio of scholarship, internship and fellowship programs from an array of corporate, nonprofit, government and individual donors.
UNCF Scholarship Eligibility Requirements
To qualify for most UNCF scholarships and grants, you must:
- Identify as African American, Black or of African descent
- Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
- Have a minimum 2.5 GPA
- Be accepted by or enrolled as an undergraduate or graduate student at an accredited college
- Demonstrate financial need
Some UNCF awards have additional requirements such as pursuing certain degrees, attending specific universities, or being from a particular hometown or state. Refer to eligibility for each scholarship.
UNCF also manages scholarship programs open more broadly to minority students from underrepresented backgrounds. Visit UNCF.org to browse and apply for available funding opportunities.
How Much Money Does UNCF Award in Scholarships?
As the leading provider of education scholarships for African American students, UNCF awards over $100 million annually in grants and scholarships.
Some key figures on UNCF’s scholarship impact:
- 10,000+ students supported through scholarships annually
- 400+ unique scholarship, fellowship and internship funds
- $108 million granted in 2020-21 academic year
- Over $5.5 billion awarded to 500,000+ students since inception
- 70,000+ undergraduate and graduate degrees attained by UNCF scholarship recipients
This funding helps high-achieving yet socioeconomically disadvantaged students afford college and unlock their full academic potential.
UNCF Scholarship Application Process
Applying for UNCF scholarships involves the following steps:
- Browse available awards at UNCF.org to find ones matching your eligibility.
- Click “Apply Now” and complete the general application to be considered for relevant scholarships.
- Submit transcripts, test scores, FAFSA form, essay, recommendations and any other required materials.
- Complete additional applications if required for certain scholarships.
- Finalists may need to interview or provide verification documents.
- Awardees are notified by email or mail typically 4-6 weeks after deadlines.
Deadlines are between April 1st to June 15th for most UNCF scholarships so students can fund upcoming academic years.
Create an account, carefully review requirements for each award, submit all requested documents, and apply early for the best chance at UNCF scholarships and grants.
Top 10 UNCF Scholarships
Here are 10 of the largest and most prestigious scholarships funded through UNCF:
- Gates Millennium Scholars – Covers all college costs and provides mentoring for 1,000 outstanding minority students each year.
- Coca-Cola First Generation Scholarship – $5,000 awards for students who will be first generation college graduates.
- Monsanto Graduate Research Scholarship – STEM funding up to $22,000 for graduate research projects.
- Microsoft HBCU Scholarship – Up to $25,000 for students attending HBCUs and pursuing technology degrees.
- Ron Brown Scholar Program – $40,000 scholarships for African American high school seniors with academic and leadership excellence.
- McDonald’s HACER Scholarship – Up to $100,000 in financial assistance for Hispanic students in STEM majors.
- PSEG STEM Scholarship – Merit-based awards up to $10,000 for minority undergraduates pursuing STEM majors.
- Harry S. Truman Scholarship – Federal scholarships covering graduate school for future government, non-profit and public service leaders.
- MELLON Foundation HBCU Graduate Scholarship – Graduate funding for African American PhD students at Black colleges and universities.
- UNCF Empower Me Tour Scholarship – $2500 awards for students attending Empower Me Tour college fairs.
Browse and apply for these and other UNCF scholarships using your free account on UNCF.org. New opportunities are added annually.
UNCF Scholarship Application Tips
Follow these top tips for submitting your strongest possible UNCF scholarship application:
- Start early – Begin your applications well before deadlines to avoid last minute scrambling.
- Follow instructions – Carefully adhere to all word limits, document requirements and eligibility criteria.
- Choose recommenders wisely – Ask those who know you well academically or professionally and will vouch for you.
- Write compelling essays – Share who you are, your goals, and your unique abilities through vivid, engaging stories.
- Highlight achievements – Let your accomplishments in and out of school shine to show your merits.
- Describe financial need – Explain how scholarships will empower you to attain your college dreams.
- Proofread meticulously – Verify every component is error-free before submitting applications.
With preparation and strategic application content, you can make the best case for UNCF scholarship support on your educational journey.
What Can You Do With UNCF Scholarships?
UNCF scholarship recipients leverage these awards to:
- Attend their top choice four-year HBCUs and other universities
- Pursue majors like business, engineering, nursing, education and more
- Complete research internships and expand career opportunities
- Cover tuition, housing, books, fees, and living expenses
- Graduate debt-free and start careers or graduate programs strong
- Become leaders in their fields and meaningful change agents
For thousands of students each year, UNCF scholarships make the dream of a college degree possible. This unlocks doors to long-term career success, financial stability, and empowerment to create a better future.
Notable UNCF Alumni
Many prominent leaders across diverse fields began their journeys to success with UNCF support. Here are just a few noteworthy UNCF alumni:
- Stacey Abrams – Politician, lawyer, voting rights activist, author
- Walter E. Massey – Physicist, first African-American director of the National Science Foundation
- Rosalind G. Brewer – Business executive, first African-American COO of Starbucks
- Kenya Barris – Award winning television and movie producer, writer and director
- Bakari Sellers – Attorney, political commentator, former South Carolina legislator
- Dr. Louis Sullivan – Founding president, Morehouse School of Medicine; former Secretary of Health and Human Services
- Toni Morrison – Acclaimed novelist, essayist, Pulitzer Prize winner
Along with these luminaries, UNCF has helped over half a million students earn degrees and change lives for the better.
UNCF Impact on African American Education
For nearly 80 years, UNCF has made immense positive impact expanding African American access to higher education and powering social mobility.
Key measures of UNCF’s educational impact include:
- 500,000+ students awarded $5.5+ billion in scholarships since 1944
- 70,000+ scholarships and programs created with 400+ funding partners
- 10,000+ students awarded scholarships annually, worth over $100 million each year
- 37 member historically Black colleges and universities supported
- #1 U.S. nonprofit provider of scholarships for minority and African American students
- 7x higher graduation rate for UNCF member HBCUs compared to African American students nationally
UNCF will continue driving even greater impact. Its strategic goal is to increase annual scholarship awards to $250 million annually supporting 20,000 students by 2025.
For almost 80 years, the United Negro College Fund has empowered generations of African American students to earn college degrees and build better futures through education.
As the leading provider of scholarships and support for Black students, UNCF has proven that removing financial barriers combined with high expectations creates thriving communities.
Any ambitious, college-bound African American student should consider applying for UNCF’s wide array of scholarship, internship and fellowship opportunities. This financial assistance and preparation can help you join the 500,000+ UNCF alumni who have become leaders across every field.
UNCF continues its vital mission to promote educational access and excellence. With mentorship plus scholarship funding, UNCF helps deserving students achieve their highest college aspirations and embark on careers of meaningful impact.
Frequently Asked Questions About UNCF
Here are answers to some key questions students often have about UNCF scholarships and programs:
Do I have to attend an HBCU to get UNCF scholarships?
No. UNCF awards scholarships to students attending all accredited colleges in the U.S. Attending an HBCU is not required.
Can graduate students get UNCF scholarships?
Yes, many UNCF scholarships and fellowships are for masters and doctoral students pursuing graduate and professional degrees.
Is there an age limit for UNCF scholarships?
You typically must be 17 or older. Some awards are for undergraduate students while others fund graduate studies. There are no set age limits.
Can I apply directly to UNCF for scholarships?
Yes. You can set up a free UNCF account to view and apply for hundreds of scholarships in one place.
When are UNCF scholarship deadlines?
Most deadlines are between April 1st to June 15th each year. Some supplemental deadlines are in the fall.
Can I receive multiple UNCF scholarships?
Yes, you can potentially be awarded more than one UNCF-administered scholarship in a given year.
How and when are scholarship winners notified?
Notifications are sent by email or postal mail 4 to 6 weeks after each scholarship deadline.
Where does UNCF scholarship funding come from?
UNCF partners with corporations, foundations, organizations, HBCUs, individuals and other donors to provide scholarship funds.