“Just because I’m (Insert race/ethnicity/diversity criteria here), I’m going to get all of my college paid for!”

Hold on a second; let’s think about this.

Diversity scholarships will not magically (or automatically) be awarded to you just on the basis of race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other diverse criterion you self-identify with. They, like any other scholarship opportunity, will require that you (the student) demonstrate something above and beyond simply “wanting” the scholarship.

Here are five facts to help you learn more about Diversity scholarships:

FACT: You still need to apply for it… before the deadline!

No one else can magically earn this for you. You need to read the requirements for the scholarship, fulfill the obligations (essay, resume, letter of recommendation, etc.), and yes, meet the deadline! No exceptions! Hint: don’t wait until the last minute; start researching scholarships early!

FACT: You must demonstrate involvement in serving/participating in whatever diversity or multicultural criterion you self-identify as having.

Or, in other words, prove it! Join a diversity or multicultural club in your high school, participate in a community service project that serves a diverse community, and attend educational programming in the community that increases your cultural awareness. These are all tangible experiences that can better position you to earn a diversity scholarship.

FACT: GPA is still important!

If your GPA is drastically low, this can hurt your chances of earning a diversity scholarship. As with scholarships in general, you don’t always need a perfect 4.0 GPA, but you do need to do your best in the classroom if you want to be competitive for these awards.

FACT: You still need to apply for other scholarships as well.

You will not receive every scholarship you apply for. However, your goal should be to apply for a high number of different scholarships, both big and small, based on whatever criteria you are eligible for (such as academics, involvement, financial need, community service, and diversity).

FACT: If you are awarded a diversity scholarship that is renewable, you must work to maintain it!

This is true of any renewable scholarship. You will have to stay above a certain GPA in order to continue receiving that scholarship, unless it instructs you otherwise. Also, some diversity scholarships require that you attend on-campus programming or meet with faculty/staff at certain points throughout the school year. Be sure to read the fine print of each scholarship so that you are familiar with the details.

Put in the work, apply for any and all scholarships you can. Good luck!