As statistics show that the number of immigrants coming from to the United States have Latin America have nearly tripled since 1990, more organizations are doing their part to offer scholarships for Central Americans to improve access to higher education. Representing close to eight percent of all immigrants, there are nearly 3.1 million Central Americans residing in our nation. Unfortunately, Central American immigrants are more likely to have lower levels of English proficiency, live in poverty, and drop out of schooling. In fact, only 9 percent of Central American immigrants over the age of 25 years old have a bachelor’s degree or higher. If you were born in Central America or are of immigrant descent, the following are 25 great scholarships that can help you overcome these significant barriers to attend post-secondary education.

1. Alliance/Merck Ciencia Hispanic Scholars Program

Deadline: February 15th

Offering up to $5,000 each for four years of college at a grand total of $20,000, the Alliance/Merck Ciencia Hispanic Scholars Program is sponsored by the National Alliance for Hispanic Health to improve access to higher education in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) for Hispanic students. Eligible candidates must be enrolling in college full-time in the United States or Puerto Rico, be pursuing a STEM career at the bachelor’s degree level, and demonstrate financial need.


Alliance/Merck Ciencia Hispanic Scholars Program
1501 Sixteenth Street NW
Washington, DC 20036
(866) 783-2645

2. Ann Biggs/Thelma Salazar Scholarship for First-Generation Children

Deadline: June 1st

For students enrolling full-time in the University of Texas at San Antonio, the Ann Biggs/Thelma Salazar Scholarship for First-Generation Children is granted each year for $2,000 to students with U.S. citizenship who have at least one parent who immigrated from Central America or Mexico. Qualified applicants must be in good academic standing, show preparedness for university coursework, be working on their first baccalaureate degree, exhibit financial need, and submit a parent’s certificate of naturalization or alien registration.


Ann Biggs/Thelma Salazar Scholarship for First-Generation Children
One UTSA Circle
San Antonio, TX 78249
(210) 458-4638

3. Audrey Palmer Hawks Scholarship

Deadline: April 1st

In honor of the past Director General of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), the Audrey Palmer Hawks Scholarship is offered for up to $7,500 annually to individuals residing in the Caribbean region of Central America who are interested in pursuing a master’s degree or post-graduate certificate in tourism/hospitality studies to assist in their job. Applicants must be enrolling a regionally accredited U.S. institution, be seeking study under a F-1 visa, and advance their education in full-time study.


Audrey Palmer Hawks Scholarship
80 Broad Street Suite 3302
New York, NY 10004
(212) 635-9530
Scholarship Link

4. Caribbean Students Scholarship Fund

Deadline: March 17th

Annually, the Caribbean Students Scholarship Fund (CSSF) will provide awards in current high school seniors or high school graduates who are planning to enroll full-time in an accredited two or four-year college in the District of Columbia, Maryland, or northern Virginia. Eligible applicants must be of Caribbean descent, demonstrate financial need, possess a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5 or higher, provide two written references, and perform at least two community service events sponsored by the CSSF.


Caribbean Students Scholarship Fund
P.O. Box 1229
Landover, MD 20785
(301) 879-8449

5. Central American Young Scholar Awards

Deadline: Varies

Administered through the Center for the Advancement of Hispanics in Science and Engineering Education (CAHSEE), the Central American Young Scholar Awards are presented each year for up to $5,000 each to graduating high school seniors in the Washington D.C. area who have demonstrated remarkable success through all four years of high school. To qualify, candidates must be of Central American descent, have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher, and be furthering their studies in post-secondary education with a STEM-related major.


Central American Young Scholar Awards
8100 Corporate Drive Suite 401
Landover, MD 20785
(301) 918-1014

6. Chicana/Latina Foundation Scholarship

Deadline: March 17th

Designed to improve access to post-secondary education for women of Central America with Chicana or Latina heritage, the Chicana/Latina Foundation Scholarship is awarded for $1,500 each year to outstanding female students who are studying in an accredited two or four-year institution in a participating county of Northern California. Applicants must be enrolled in a full-time course load, have a cumulative GPA of at least 2.5, possess a minimum of 12 college credits, and agree to volunteer 10 hours with the foundation.


Chicana/Latina Foundation Scholarship
1419 Burlingame Avenue Suite W2
Burlingame, CA 94010
(650) 373-1083

7. Daisy Pabón Memorial Scholarship

Deadline: July 15th

In memory of the vice president of the Puerto Rican Civic Club (PRCC) who devoted her life to the Puerto Rican community before her tragic death in a car accident in 2001, the Daisy Pabón Memorial Scholarship is awarded for $1,000 annually to college students of Puerto Rican ancestry residing in California. Recipients will be chosen based on financial need, academic performance, leadership success, involvement in extra-curricular activities, and participation in the Hispanic community.


Daisy Pabón Memorial Scholarship
P.O. Box 765
San Jose, CA 95106
(408) 475-7722

8. Dr. Juan Andrade Scholarship for Young Hispanic Leaders

Deadline: December 31st

Within the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute (USHLI), the Dr. Juan Andrade Scholarship for Young Hispanic Leaders is granted for $1,000 annually to Central American or Hispanic students who have been accepted at an accredited undergraduate four-year institution in the U.S. or U.S. territories. Applicants must be enrolled as full-time students, be pursuing a bachelor’s degree, demonstrate verifiable need for financial assistance, and submit a 750-word essay discussing the future of Hispanics in America.


Dr. Juan Andrade Scholarship for Young Hispanic Leaders
431 South Dearborn Street Suite 1203
Chicago, IL 60605
(312) 427-8683

9. Ecuadorian Scholars Fund (ESF)

Deadline: August 31st

Since being created in 2009 by Organizacion Juventud Ecuatoriana (JUVE), the Ecuadorian Scholars Fund (ESF) has distributed over $25,000 in scholarships to Ecuadorian citizens or students of Ecuadorian descent who are enrolled at an accredited post-secondary institution in the Tri-State area of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Qualified candidates must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher, participate in two JUVE workshops, and provide proof of at least 15 hours of community service in the current year.


Ecuadorian Scholars Fund (ESF)
555 Fifth Avenue 14th Floor
New York, NY 10017
(720) 588-3691

10. Ernest W. Quakenbush Memorial Scholarship

Deadline: February 28th

At Southern Nazarene University, the Ernest W. Quakenbush Memorial Scholarship has been established to provide general need-based awards of varying amounts to currently enrolled full-time international students who are residents of Mexico or Central America. Eligible undergraduate candidates should have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher, demonstrate financial need, and plan to emulate SNU’s motto “Character-Culture-Christ” when returning to their home country after graduation.


Ernest W. Quakenbush Memorial Scholarship
6729 NW 39th Expressway
Bethany, OK 73008
(405) 491-6624

11. Fulfilling Our Dreams Scholarship

Deadline: May 31st

Sponsored by the Salvadoran-American American Leadership and Educational Fund (SALEF), the Fulfilling Our Dreams Scholarship is distributed annually for up to $2,500 each to Central American students of Latino ethnicity as financial assistance to support their dreams of pursuing an undergraduate, graduate, or professional degree in America. Regardless of immigration status, candidates must demonstrate financial need, possess a minimum GPA of 2.5 or better, and have a history of involvement in community service.


Fulfilling Our Dreams Scholarship
1625 West Olympic Blvd. Suite 718
Los Angeles, CA 90015
(213) 480-1052

12. Judge Margarita Esquiroz Scholarship

Deadline: June 30th

In the one-time amount of $2,500, the Judge Margarita Esquiroz Scholarship is presented each year by the Cuban American Bar Foundation to Cuban or Cuban-American students who are enrolled in an accredited law school at the University of Miami, Florida International University, St. Thomas University, Nova Southeastern University, Florida State University, or the University of Florida. Applicants must have distinguished themselves academically and/or in service-oriented activities of importance to the Cuban-American community.


Judge Margarita Esquiroz Scholarship
200 South Biscayne Blvd. Suite 3200
Miami, FL 33131
(305) 375-6074

13. Joyce de Guatemala Scholarship

Deadline: August 15th

Within the cultural heart of Latino Philadelphia, the Taller Puertorriqueño Foundation provides the Joyce de Guatemala Scholarship for $2,500 annually to Central American artists who are interested in studying at the Brandywine Workshop to learn more about the creation, documentation, and preservation of ethnically diverse art. Eligible artists must specialize in a visual art form, present a portfolio of at least ten images created in the last three years, and submit a current resume of activities/accomplishments.


Joyce de Guatemala Scholarship
2721 North 5th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19135
(215) 426-3311

14. Latin American Caribbean Scholarship

Deadline: Varies

At Florida Gulf Coast University, the Latin American Caribbean Scholarship has been created to provide $500 annually to full-time international students from designated Latin American and Caribbean countries/territories in Central America. Qualified applicants must be admitted as undergraduate degree-seeking students, maintain at least 12 hours per semester, be approved to study in the U.S. with an F-1 Visa, have a minimum GPA of 3.4 or higher, and demonstrate special talents in their chosen field.


Latin American Caribbean Scholarship
10501 FGCU Blvd. South
Fort Myers, FL 33965
(239) 590-1000

15. Latin American Educational Foundation Scholarship

Deadline: March 15th

Annually, the Latin American Educational Foundation (LAEF) Scholarship is granted for up to $2,000 to legal Colorado residents with Hispanic heritage who were born in Mexico or Central America. In order to qualify for the financial assistance, candidates must be actively involved in the Hispanic community, possess a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or greater, be enrolled full-time in an accredited U.S. institution, and agree to complete at least 10 hours of community service during their year of funding.


Latin American Educational Foundation Scholarship
561 Santa Fe Drive
Denver, CO 80204
(303) 446-0541

16. Los Padres College Tuition Assistance Program

Deadline: January 16th

Designed specifically for providing financial support to those who are the first in their family to attend post-secondary education, the Los Padres College Tuition Assistance Program provides up to $8,000 over the course of four years to full-time undergraduate students in the New York City area who are of Mexican, Puerto Rican, or Latino descent. Applicants must be dedicated to receiving a bachelor’s degree, have U.S. citizenship, meet the required low income guidelines, be in good academic standing, and participate in at least 100 hours of community service.


Los Padres College Tuition Assistance Program
P.O. Box 305
Nassau, DE 19969
(800) 528-4105

17. Manuel Candamo Memorial Scholarships

Deadline: February 16th

In honor of the Puerto Rican entrepreneur who worked on projects in robotics, nanotechnology, and tele-medicine to benefit Caribbean countries before his unexpected death at the age of 46 from cancer, the Manuel Candamo Memorial Scholarships are granted through the Hispanic College Fund (HCF) each year for up to $2,500 apiece. Eligible candidates must be Puerto Rican or of Puerto Rican descent, plan to enroll full-time as an undergraduate student at an accredited institution for the upcoming term, and show financial need.


Manuel Candamo Memorial Scholarships
1301 K Street NW Suite 450
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 296-5400

18. Maria Elena Salinas Scholarships

Deadline: April 14th

Through a generous donation from the Univision network news anchor to the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ), the Maria Elena Salinas Scholarships are awarded for up to $5,000 each year to Central American students who have expressed a strong desire to enter a career in Spanish-language broadcast journalism. In addition to receiving the financial support to attend an accredited post-secondary institution, recipients will have an opportunity to intern in the news division of the Univision network or an affiliate.


Maria Elena Salinas Scholarships
1050 Connecticut Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 662-7145

19. Mas Family Scholarships

Deadline: January 17th

As part of the Jorge Mas Canosa Freedom Foundation initiative, the Mas Family Scholarships have been established to provide up to $32,000 over four years of undergraduate studies to financially needy students with a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher who were born in Cuba or are of direct Cuban descent. Selection will be based on applicants’ academic performance, leadership qualities, financial situation, promise of success in their chosen field, and potential for contributing to the advancement of a free society.


Mas Family Scholarships
1312 SW 27th Avenue
Miami, FL 33145
(305) 592-7768

20. Puerto Rican Bar Association Scholarship

Deadline: April 18th

Ranging in value from $2,500 to $5,000 based on available funds, the Puerto Rican Bar Association Scholarship is available each year for Latino students from Central America who are permanent residents of New York and are attending an ABA-approved law school within New York City. Eligible applicants entering their first, second, or third year of law school must be pursuing a Juris Doctor degree, showcase financial need, demonstrate academic promise, and be involved in the Puerto Rican community.


Puerto Rican Bar Association Scholarship
377 Broadway 6th Floor
New York, NY 10013
(212) 965-2744

21. Que Llueva Café Scholarship

Deadline: February 22nd

With over $55,000 awarded in the past five years, the Que Llueva Café Scholarship is administered through the Chicano Organizing & Research in Education (CORE) to provide financial assistance to Central American students attending an accredited college in the United States or Puerto Rico who do not have legal documentation. Recipients will be chosen based on their academic promise, involvement in extra-curricular activities outside of the classroom, financial need, compelling personal challenges, and aspirations for the future.


Que Llueva Café Scholarship
P.O. Box 160144
Sacramento, CA 95816
Scholarship Link

22. SALEF Foundation Health Career Scholarships

Deadline: May 31st

Within the Salvadoran American Leadership & Educational Fund (SALEF) Foundation, the Health Career Scholarships are awarded annually for up to $2,250 to Salvadoran and other Central American students who are pursuing a health-related field in undergraduate, graduate, medical, or dentistry school. Applicants must resident in the Los Angeles area of California, have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5 or higher, demonstrate proven financial need, and exhibit a history of community involvement.


SALEF Foundation Health Career Scholarships
1625 West Olympic Blvd. Suite 718
Los Angeles, CA 90015
(213) 480-1052

23. Smart Cookie Scholarship Fund

Deadline: April 2nd

For varying amounts, the Smart Cookie Scholarship Fund is presented annually through the Women’s Foundation of California to provide financial assistance to female first and second-generation immigrants from Central America who currently are residing in eligible California counties. In order to qualify, candidates must be the first in their family to attend college, be enrolling full-time in an accredited in-state undergraduate program, and display strong leadership abilities with the potential to positively contribute to the Latino immigrant community.

See also: 25 Great Scholarships for First Generation Students


Smart Cookie Scholarship Fund
340 Pine St. Suite 302
San Francisco, CA 94104
(415) 837-1113

24. Spanish American Institute (SAI) Scholarship

Deadline: February 26th

For those attending Los Angeles City College, Mission College, Pierce College, or East Los Angeles College, the Spanish American Institute (SAI) Scholarship is bestowed annually for $5,000 upon a current full-time student of Central American or Latino/a descent who is pursuing a two or four-year undergraduate degree with a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or higher. Along with the completed application, students will be responsible for submitting an official transcript, letter of recommendation, and one-page typed essay describing career goals.


Spanish American Institute (SAI) Scholarship
P.O. Box 92943
Long Beach, CA 90809
(562) 424-2500

25. Walton International Scholarship Program (WISP)

Deadline: Varies

Over the past quarter-century, the Walton International Scholarship Program (WISP) has been available to provide up to 60 full-tuition awards for Central American students interested in attending one of three respected Christian faith-based Arkansas institutions, including Harding University, John Brown University, and the University of the Ozarks. Applications are accepted from high school graduates with financial need who reside in Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Panama.


Walton International Scholarship Program (WISP)
2000 West University Street
Siloam Springs, AR 72761
(479) 524-7236
Scholarship Link

If you were born in or your family hails from Central America, then it is highly recommended that you take advantage of financial aid resources that are available to lower academic expenses, remove barriers to higher learning, and represent your heritage with pride. In order to learn more, contact any or all of these scholarships for Central Americans today to discover which can provide you with the financial support to achieve your American dream.