By tamaraAs many students still struggle to pay for a college education, a troubling new trend has emerged among some of the largest scholarship programs dedicated to helping African American students — unused money is being returned to scholarship donors. Why? Either the students eligible for the programs are unaware that they exist or they may be unwilling to complete the lengthy scholarship applications. In fact, the President and CEO of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, Johnny C. Taylor, stated that he has given back money over the last three years due to incomplete applications, according to an article in the Atlanta Black Star. This February, as we celebrate Black History Month, let’s make it a point to encourage more African American students to apply for scholarship opportunities and help them make their educational dreams come true. After all, it takes much less time to complete a scholarship application than it does to pay off a student loan bill. And to get things started, I’ve found a few African American scholarship programs that are currently accepting applications.1. Legal Opportunity Scholarship The American Bar Association provides 20 scholarships annually to minority students who are seeking a law degree (first-year students only). Each award is valued at $5,000 annually and may be renewed for an additional two years. Students must have a 2.5 GPA or higher to apply. Deadline: March 2.2. P. O. Pistilli Scholarship Up to seven $4,000 scholarships will be awarded to African American high school seniors who are pursuing a career in either engineering (electrical or computer) or computer science. Students must have a 3.0 GPA or higher and plan to enroll in college full time. Scholarships are renewable for an additional three years if students maintain a 2.6 GPA or higher. Deadline: March 6.3. George A. Strait Minority Scholarship Minority graduate students majoring in law or legal resource management may be eligible for this scholarship. Up to four awards will be provided, and each is based on the student’s unmet financial need. Deadline: April 1.4. Mary Free Bed Minority Scholarship The Mary Free Bed Guild provides a one-time scholarship for minority students who live in the West Michigan area. Students must have a 3.0 GPA or higher and must be pursuing a degree in one of the following fields: nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech language pathology, therapeutic recreation, or neuropsychology. The award amount varies depending on the student’s needs. Deadline: April 1.5. Marcia Silverman Minority Student Award Minority college seniors (majoring in public relations, journalism, or a related field) may be eligible for this $5,000 scholarship. Students must have a 3.0 GPA or higher and be a member of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRRSA). Deadline: June 12.6. AWG Minority Scholarship The Association for Women Geoscientists (AWG) sponsors a $6,000 scholarship for minority women who are pursuing an undergraduate degree in the geosciences. One or more awards may be offered annually. Deadline: June 30.Other Resources Students may also find additional minority resources through their state Higher Education Boards, college financial aid websites, and other minority-focused organizations, such as the Jackie Robinson Foundation and the United Negro College Fund. Do you know of another minority scholarship program that’s currently accepting applications? Share it with me in the comments section. Together, we can help more students graduate with less debt.