Students who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) face some additional challenges. Filling out basic information on standard forms can often be complicated. The first thing all students do when seeking financial aid is fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). This form asks if you are male or female; that seems like a simple question, but it is not an easy answer to everyone. Also, the biggest supporters of students are usually their parents. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender young adults are often not on good terms with their parents because of the gender identity and sexual orientation issues.
Students should fill out the FAFSA regardless of difficulties. Additional questions might need to be answered later on, but sometimes working in the system is one way to change the system. Each student who pushes through makes it easier for the next one on the path.
There are people who understand the obstacles and want to help. Sometimes the general public can make something like identity feel like a handicap, when it shouldn’t. There are people who understand this; these are the people who donate to organizations which offer scholarships to such young people. The idea is that by making life easier for LGBT students through providing financial aid, a greater equilibrium is reached.
- The Point Foundation is one of the leading scholarship providers for LGBT students. They also add “questioning” young adults to their collective (LGBTQ). These scholarships are generously funded both privately and corporately. The Named Scholarship Program offered by The Point Foundation allows benefactors to honor a person or company by naming the scholarship after them.
The Point Foundation looks for academic achievement and leadership experience when viewing applications, but they also take financial need into consideration, as well as things like race and religion. Scholarship amounts vary; The Point Foundation aims to help students with the funding they lack. Whatever funding students are unable to obtain from other sources, The Point Foundation will try to supply, to the full amount of Cost of Attendance (COA). Scholarship money can be used for tuition, books and supplies, room and board, etc. When a scholarship is won and a student becomes a “Point Scholar,” they are teamed up with a mentor, so that they are supported in a number of ways, and not just financially.
- The League Foundation offers a number of scholarships to LGBT students each year. There is one $2,500 scholarship awarded in memory of Laurel Hester, and one $2,500 scholarship awarded in memory of Matthew Shepard. Additionally, there are up to five $1,500 League Foundation Scholarships given out each year. Students who are U.S. citizens may apply, and each application is considered for all three awards. Academic performance, community involvement, and acceptance into an American or Canadian college or university are requirements.
- The PFLAG National Scholarship does not require financial need. This scholarship is available to LGBT high school seniors or college freshmen. PFLAG stands for Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. Applicants who show involvement in the LGBT community are given preference. Over $34,000 was given out to student activists in 2013 in scholarships ranging from $500- $5,000.
- Live Out Loud offers five $5,000 scholarships each year to support LGBT youth in the New York Tri-State area who are working toward college degrees. This Educational Scholarship pays for education related expenses as well as tuition fees. High School seniors may apply, and applicants are considered based on academic achievement, leadership, community service, financial need, and letters of recommendation.
- The Maylon-Smith Scholarship Award is presented to graduate psychology students. It is an annual award of up to $1,000 offered by the American Psychological Association’s Division 44, The Society for the Psychological Study of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Issues (SPSLGBTI). The desire to promote the research of sexual orientation and gender identification in the area of psychology is behind the award. Through supporting research, the society hopes to advance the understanding of LGBT people and the issues they face, as well as increase public knowledge and understanding.
There is also a $1,000 award given out annually to graduate students to promote research in the area of psychology related to bisexuality. This grant is awarded from the Bisexual Foundation Scholarship fund.