Transgender students are more visible than ever on college campuses across the country. But, at the same time, many trans students continue to report struggles that make it difficult to achieve success.
These struggles are partially due to a lack of resources that most other students take for granted: social support, financial aid, career coaching, and more. These are vital to the college experience and go a long way toward improving overall health and well-being. Trans students share familiar dreams and professional aspirations, but lack of access to good resources all too often makes it hard to fulfill those goals.
This guide is designed to help transgender students find the resources they need to make their dreams a reality. It looks at academic and career tools, discusses options for social support and networking, and outlines a few financial aid options. The scholarships listed are particularly useful because they are open to transgender students interested in earning a degree in any field, including healthcare.
Scholarships & Financial Aid for Transgender Students
College is a significant investment, and like many who study on campus or online, transgender students can struggle to cover tuition bills and other expenses. Scholarships, grants, and other financial aid opportunities can help offset some of these costs. Scholarships are by far the most popular. Unlike student loans, these awards do not need to be repaid and are often given to promising students by schools, private organizations, and nonprofits. Grants function similarly and sometimes involve a research or service-related component.
Fortunately, there are a number of scholarship opportunities available for transgender students, including those interested in healthcare, medicine, and other related fields. The sections below list a few of the awards you may want to consider as you weigh your options.
The League Foundation
Interested applicants must be high school seniors and U.S. citizens who identify as LGBTQ. They must plan to attend an accredited institution within the U.S. or Canada.
How to Apply
Qualified students must submit transcripts indicating a 3.0 GPA or higher, two personal essays, and a least two letters of recommendation.
The Stonewall Foundation
Any undocumented LGBTQ student or refugee attending an accredited institution in New York City may apply. All applicants must be rising sophomores with a cumulative GPA or 3.25 or higher.
How to Apply
Interested students must submit an online application. The Stonewall Foundation keeps all application information completely confidential.
The League Foundation
Any LGBTQ student currently attending an accredited post-secondary institution in North America may apply.
How to Apply
Qualified applicants must demonstrate a competitive GPA and provide personal essays as specified by the scholarship committee. They must also supply two reference letters from non-family members.
Point Foundation – National LGBTQ Scholarship Fund
Applicants need to be enrolled in a four-year accredited U.S. college and identify as a member of the LGBTQ community.
How to Apply
All applications must include necessary supplemental documents, including standardized test scores. Selected semi-finalists may be asked to provide additional materials and will be subject to a phone interview.
The Pride Foundation
All LGBTQ students who reside in Alaska, Montana, Oregon, or Washington may apply. Applicants must be pursuing post-secondary education in a related field, including medicine and healthcare.
How to Apply
Through a convenient online portal, students complete one application that instantly puts you into consideration for over 60 different awards.
Medical and Health Scholarships
Applicants must be currently enrolled in an accredited nursing program and actively attending classes on a full or part-time basis.
How to Apply
Interested students need to complete an online application and provide personal, academic, and career information.
Pacific Medical Training
This award supports students attending a healthcare related program at an accredited university.
How to Apply
Applicants must complete an online application and write an argumentative essay discussing emergency medical care.
Interested students need to be enrolled at an accredited U.S. college or university and maintain a 3.0 GPA. Their course of study should be in a healthcare field like nursing, medicine, nutrition, or dentistry.
How to Apply
Applicants must submit a video or essay that discusses an act of kindness that has inspired them. They must also provide transcripts and background information.
High school students with demonstrated service to the LGBTQ community are encouraged to apply. All applicants must plan to attend college in the year in which they apply.
How to Apply
Applicants should navigate to the eQuality website and select the applicable award to apply.
HOSA, in partnership with Tallo
These awards are open to students interested in careers in healthcare and medicine. Possible fields include dentistry, nursing, occupational therapy, allied health, public health, and others.
How to Apply
Qualified applicants must be HOSA members and need to create a Tallo profile before they apply.
5 Keys to Landing Your Scholarship
Finding good scholarship opportunities is only one step of the process. You want your applications to be persuasive and successful. This means doing your research, carefully reading the instructions, and submitting all your materials on time. You will only get one chance to make a lasting impression, so be sure to present the best version of yourself in your materials. It could be the difference between earning extra money to cover tuition expense. Here are a few additional tips that can increase your chances of success.
- Key #1: Apply for local scholarships
Most of the scholarships discussed above are national awards. Those are great opportunities, but there are also quite a few local scholarships out there. Check in with local advocacy groups, nonprofits, and business to see if they offer awards that might apply to you.
- Key #2: Do your research and highlight your strengths
Anytime you apply for a scholarship you should do your due diligence. Research the organization’s history, its mission, and its reasoning for offering the scholarship. If the application requires an essay, highlight your own strengths and try to connect them to the organization’s goals.
- Key #3: Speak with references in advance
Many scholarships require references or recommendation letters. Discuss the opportunity with your references in advance so you are both on the same page. If the scholarship requires a personal essay have your recommenders read your essay before they write their letters. This will give your application more cohesion.
- Key #4: Proofread and stick to the limits
Proofread, always! You do not want to submit application materials full of typos and errors. Likewise, if the scholarship requires word or page count limits be sure to closely stick to them. Follow the instructions carefully and be sure that you conform to all requirements. You want your application to be a good reflection of you and your capabilities.
- Key #5: Apply early and often
Apply to more scholarships than you think you need and submit your materials early. There are quite a few scholarships out there, so more submissions will increase your chances of getting college costs covered. Submitting applications early shows initiative and also reduces your chances of running into any logistical issues at the last minute.
College Resources for Transgender Students
Most schools provide academic and social resources to their students. These can be important tools, but for transgender students there are additional organizations that work tirelessly to provide support. These include academic and career services, advocacy groups, social networks, and healthcare education resources. Below is a list of just a few resources specifically designed for transgender students.
Academic & Career
- National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE): LGBTQ Resources
NACE offers career readiness and professional development tools to college students. Its LGBTQ portal provides information designed to help transgender students and potential employers combat the unique challenges students face as they prepare to enter the workforce. These tools include career services, talent acquisition and recruiting, and media resources.
- Trans Employment Program
Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, this organization helps create jobs and inclusive workplaces for transgender and gender non-conforming people. It provides job referrals and career coaching services, resume workshops, and legal advice. It also hosts events and offers healthcare resources for transgender students and job candidates.
- Trans Student Educational Resources
(TSER) TSER works to promote the well-being of transgender students through workshops, policy initiatives, and conferences. The organization offers safe school training seminars and engages in media efforts designed to increase transgender justice in education. It also creates infographics to help raise public awareness on issues.
- U.S. Department of Education – Office of Civil Rights
An arm of the federal government, the U.S. Department of Education establishes policy and enforces national regulations related to education. Its Office of Civil Rights offers resources designed to protect transgender students and support their success. These include current policy initiatives and court filings, case resolutions, and tools for equal employment opportunities.
Social & Networking
A national transgender anti-violence organization founded in 1994, FORGE provides supportive services to sexual assault survivors. It hosts regional training events, sponsors relevant publications, and maintains an extensive directory of tools and resources for transgender students.
- It Gets Better Project
Founded in 2010, this nonprofit organization strives to connect and empower LGBTQ youth around the globe. It offers hope and encouragement by promoting success stories and advancing social media campaigns designed to raise public awareness of LGBT-related issues.
- Susan’s Place
Susan’s Place is a social network and peer support group specifically created for transgender people. It aggregates recent and relevant news and hosts a collaborative Wiki maintained by its users. Once you register for an account you can engage with others through chats and threaded discussion boards.
- TransQueer Nation
This website extends a safe and exclusive social network service to LGBTQ and non-binary people across the world. Its mission is to encourage unity within the community and provide the support and education necessary for a brighter tomorrow.
Advocacy & Diversity
First founded in 1985, GLAAD is a premier LGBTQ advocacy organization. It promotes the full acceptance and success of all LGBTQ people by raising awareness and fighting discrimination in the media. It hosts an active blog, facilitates public dialogue, and generates a variety of resources and publications.
- Human Rights Campaign
(HRC) The largest national LGBTQ civil rights organization, HRC works to achieve full equality and inclusion of LGBTQ people. It promotes responsibility, equity, and intersectionality through fundraising efforts and media campaigns. It sponsors local and national programming and provides resource for transgender persons in need of assistance.
- National Center for Transgender Equality
This organization advances transgender equality nationwide by driving policy change. It offers a number of self-help guides to transgender people on subjects like healthcare and legal services. It also crafts position papers on issues that range from employment and aging to housing and travel.
Founded in 1973 by parents of LGBTQ individuals, PFLAG works to connect queer people, family members, and allies. It thrives on various grassroots efforts and supports local chapters across the country. It also aggregates relevant news, and promotes lifelong learning through community engagement.
- Transgender Law Center
This nonprofit organization offers legal support to transgender individuals affected by discrimination and inequality. It provides tools to connect transgender people with legal counsel and crafts agenda material surrounding topics like racial injustice, immigration, healthcare, and employment.
- Center of Excellence for Transgender Health
Housed within the University of California San Francisco, this organization increases access to quality healthcare services for transgender persons. The nonprofit supports comprehensive, cost effective care and engages in national advocacy efforts to improve overall health and well-being.
- GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ Equality
Based in Washington, D.C., this organization connects healthcare professionals interested in promoting LGBTQ equality in the field. It offers advocacy resources to its members and hosts an annual conference. Many professionals regularly rely on its LGBTQ health handbook.
- National LGBT Health Education Center
A Fenway Institute affiliate, this organization provides educational resources and consultation to healthcare providers in order to optimize quality care for LGBTQ individuals. Resources include webinars, videos, learning modules, and publications. The organization also hosts events and connects advocacy experts with healthcare professionals.
- Pride in Practice
Pride in Practice facilitates LGBTQ healthcare education by empowering providers to give better care to transgender persons. It operates several patient hotlines and offers continuing education opportunities for healthcare professionals. It also provides printable guides designed to raise LGBTQ healthcare awareness.
- World Professional Association for Transgender Health
This international, interdisciplinary organization advances evidence-based care, education, and research in transgender health. If offers a provider directory for prospective patients and engages in a broad range of education and advocacy efforts across the globe.