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Scholarship Tips and Opportunities for Asian and Pacific Islander Students

In honor of AAPI Heritage Month, here are some scholarship action steps and awards to apply to for Asian American and Pacific Islander students.

As a scholarship expert, I’m often asked about scholarships related to race, ethnicity, and heritage. It’s always smart for a scholarship seeker to include their heritage as a possible search category. Private companies, organizations, and foundations craft scholarship opportunities that honor or celebrate race, ethnicity, and heritage that align with corporate missions to increase diversity and opportunity in education and the workforce. In honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, here’s a spotlight on some Asian American and Pacific Islander scholarship opportunities as well as three steps to approach searching for scholarships that align with your heritage.

Scholarship action steps for AAPI students

As mentioned before, heritage should absolutely be a search category for Asian American and Pacific Islander students when conducting their scholarship search process. Here are three key steps to follow.

Step 1: Use national scholarship search engines

Most scholarship search engines, such as CollegeXpress's Scholarship Search tool, enable students to find and filter opportunities that align with their heritage. It will require completing an account or profile before conducting your search, which can take some time on the front end but can save tremendous time in the long run. Check out online resources and create profiles for scholarship searching sooner rather than later.

Step 2: Research foundations related to your heritage

Many local, regional, national, and international foundations that support individuals of a specific heritage will offer scholarships. And most foundations offer multiple opportunities, so they can be a goldmine of potential scholarships. Key-word search examples include:

  • Pacific Islander + Organization + Scholarship
  • Asian American + Foundation + Scholarship

Including the year will also assist you in finding opportunities that are current. Two examples for Asian American students include the NAPABA Law Foundation and APIA Scholars. I highly recommend emailing these foundations to inquire about additional opportunities, as they’re generally connected to multiple organizations and can streamline research time.

Related: Scholarship FAQ: Expert Advice to Start Your Search With Confidence

Step 3: Expand your search with additional keywords

Many scholarship seekers make the mistake of limiting their search to opportunities that align with them too specifically, such as “Chinese American Scholarship.” Always expand your search with larger categories of scholarships, such as “Asian American Scholarship,” “Diversity Scholarship,” and “Minority Scholarship.” Expanding your search categories always equates with an expansion of possibilities. 

Scholarship opportunities for AAPI students

The following are examples of scholarships open and available to students who identify as Asian American and/or Pacific Islander:

ABA Legal Opportunity Scholarship Fund

The ABA Legal Opportunity Scholarship Fund is open to first-year law students who are Black/African American, Native American, Hispanic American, or Asian/Pacific Islander. It’s sponsored by the American Bar Association with an award of $15,000 and has a deadline that falls in April yearly. 

AANAPISI Scholarship

The AANAPISI Scholarship is open to students of Asian and/or Pacific Islander ethnicity as defined by the US census. Applicants must be the first in their family to attend college, demonstrate financial need, and be enrolled as a full-time student in an APIA Scholars AANAPISI partnering college. Awards are given up to $5,000, and some are even multi-year awards. The deadline for this opportunity falls in November.

Related: Asian American and Pacific Islander Heroes of History: 5 Incredible Figures

APIA Scholarship Program

The APIA Scholarship is open to students enrolling as an undergraduate at a US accredited college or university with a minimum GPA of 2.7. Applicants must be of Asian and/or Pacific Islander ethnicity as defined by the US Census and a citizen or national/legal permanent resident of the US. Citizens of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, and the Republic of Palau are also eligible to apply. Multiple awards of up to $20,000 are offered, and the deadline is in January. 

Chinese American Construction Professionals Scholarships

The CACP Scholarship is open to Chinese American undergraduate juniors and seniors as well as graduate students pursuing careers in architecture, engineering, design, or construction-related fields. Multiple awards up to $3,000 are available and have deadlines in June every year. Additionally, even if you don’t win a scholarship, all applicants are offered one free year of membership to the association.

NAPABA Law Foundation Scholarships

The NAPABA Law Foundation Scholarships are open to Asian Pacific American students pursuing Law degrees. There are multiple awards offered up to $7,500 with deadlines in March, June, September, and December. All the scholarships offered by the foundation use one combined application to expedite the process for applicants.

Related: Why the Scholarship Search Matters, Plus Quick Tips and Tricks

Remember: Race, ethnicity, and heritage are only one collective category of many that scholarship seekers can and should pursue. Be sure that it’s among your search categories but not your only search category. Happy Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month! 

Celebrate AAPI heritage further by checking out these 6 Great Colleges for Asian and Pacific Islander Students.

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About Jean O'Toole

Jean O’Toole is an educational consultant and author of the bestselling book Scholarship Strategies: Finding and Winning the Money You Need. Over the past 15 years, she has helped tens of thousands of students in the United States. Individuals collectively have been awarded millions of dollars by applying Jean’s scholarship strategies. In 2008, Jean co-founded Connections101, a company specializing in providing motivational tools for scholarship searching. It is her goal to empower students to design their paths to their future without college debt. Visit for more information, and follow Jean on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


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