Today, there are more systems of support in place, LGBTQ college scholarships, and resources available to LGBTQ students than ever before. As LGBTQ culture continues to be more widely accepted and understood, colleges and universities at large are also working to make necessary changes on their campuses to become more welcoming and committed to the needs of students. According to Campus Pride Index, there are now over 300 LGBTQ-friendly campuses across the country that have LGBTQ centers or dedicated offices. According to the National College Health Assessment conducted by the American College Health Association in 2016, over 18% of students responded as identifying on the LGBTQ spectrum or questioning.

Unique Challenges for LGBTQ Students

While LGBTQ students are more widely recognized, they also continue to face challenges in their pursuit of a higher education. For many LGBTQ students, acceptance and understanding can be hard to find at home. According to a 2017 survey focused on LGBTQ teens conducted by the Human Rights Campaign, 78% of LGBTQ youth surveyed reported to have not "come out" to their own family. The perceived or actual lack of familial support can also lead to financial and housing issues for LGBTQ students which can be extremely stressful. According to a survey conducted by the Williams Institute in 2012, up to 40% of homeless youth populations identified as LGBTQ cited familial rejection as the most common contributing factor to their homelessness.

LGBTQ students also face challenges on college campuses. In 2015, the Association of American Universities (AAU) conducted the largest campus climate survey on sexual assault and misconduct of its kind. With more than 150,000 students from 27 participating universities, the survey found that rates of sexual assault and misconduct were highest among LGBTQ students. In fact, 3 out of 4 LGBTQ students from the surveyed universities reported experiences of sexual harassment. The same survey revealed that 20% of LGBTQ students feared for their safety due to their identity or perceived identity.

Online Education Opportunities for LGBTQ Students

By attending an online university, you have the ability to craft your own path toward whatever your goals of higher education may be. Whether you decide to pursue an associate, bachelor's or vocational degree program, enrolling in an online university allows you the freedom to learn at your own pace, with a part-time or full-time schedule that works for you. Online programs are especially great if you love where you live or have a supportive community since you won't have to move away!

Choosing an online program also means that you decide what your campus environment looks like. Whether that's at a friend's house, in a coffee shop, or even on the beach, you choose when and where your studies take place. This can be especially helpful if you are working multiple part-time jobs, or even thinking about making a career change. The flexibility of an online program gives you the power to accomplish your educational goals on your terms without having to take classes you don't need.

Programs and Initiatives for LGBTQ Students

There are a number of programs and initiatives that have emerged over the years that are geared toward LGBTQ students. These initiatives and programs range in their focus and impact and many can be found on the Campus Pride Index database. They can come in the form of gender inclusive counseling as well as non-discrimination policies that protect LGBTQ students on campus.

Non-Discrimination Policies

Many universities including Purdue University, Santa Anna College and Georgetown University all have language specific non-discrimination policies written that protect LGBTQ students. These policies provide equal educational opportunities for all students regardless of gender identity or presentation. These policies extend themselves to all educational programs offered by the participating colleges and universities.

The Safe Zone Project

This is an online training resource for educators and allies who are interested in creating safe and inclusive spaces for LGBTQ students. The program is available at no charge to anyone interested in cultivating inclusive community spaces for everyone on the gender identity spectrum. This program is specifically geared towards communication and support.

New2U: LGBTQA+ First Year Experience Program

Michigan State University enacted the New2U: LGBTQA+ First Year Experience Program for its incoming LGBTQ students. This program seeks to aid first-year students by offering weekly programs that help develop academic interests and goals. The program also offers students the opportunity to meet fellow LGBTQ community members and mentors.

LGBTQ-Friendly Colleges and Universities

While LBGTQ-friendly colleges and universities haven't always been around, they continue to grow in number as LGBTQ identities gain a wider acceptance and understanding. LGBTQ-friendly colleges tend to have a dedicated office, or center for LGBTQ students, as well as non-discrimination policies in place.

According the Campus Pride Index, there are now over 1,000 colleges and universities with non-discrimination policies that protect LGBTQ students regardless of gender or identity expression. These policies help enforce a sense of safety and inclusion within campus communities.

Benefits of a LGBTQ-Friendly College

Campuses that are LGBTQ friendly tend to provide an expansive and inclusive education. These kinds of colleges also tend to attract like-minded individuals, which helps to prevent conflict both on and off campus. By attending an LGBT-friendly college, you know that you're attending a college that cares about their students' well-being by creating this kind of safe space. An LGBTQ-friendly college can have the resources to help support students who identify anywhere on the spectrum, or who may be questioning their own identity.

Scholarships and Grants for LGBTQ Students

Even though there has been a great deal of advancement in terms of awareness and acceptance of LGBTQ identities, there are still a limited number of grants and scholarships for LGBTQ students. That being said, there are still some out there that can help you in funding your education. We have provided several of LGBTQ college scholarships and grants below as a starter. Be sure to do your own research as well.

LGBTQ Scholarships

Leroy F. Aarons Scholarship Award

The Leroy F. Aarons Scholarship Award was established by the Association of LGBTQ Journalists to provide up to $5,000 in funding for tuition for any current or incoming LGBTQ undergrad student enrolled in a U.S.-based community college or 4-year university planning a career in journalism. Students must submit 5 work samples along with a resume, proof of acceptance or enrollment and official transcripts in order to be eligible for this LGBTQ college scholarship. There is no fee to apply.

Live Out Loud Young Trailblazers Scholarship

The Live Out Loud Young Trailblazers Scholarship exists to support LGBTQ youth pursing a college degree program who demonstrate financial need. This LGBTQ college scholarship of up to $10,000 can be applied to pay for educational expenses related to any accredited college, university and/or vocational program. This scholarship is available to any graduating high school seniors from the tri-state area (New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey) who openly identify as LGBTQ.

Out to Innovate Scholarship

The National Organization of Gay and Lesbian Scientists and Technical Professionals (NOGLST) established the Out to Innovate Scholarship to support LGBTQ students in sciences, technologies, engineering, and math (STEM). Two scholarships of up to $5,000 are awarded every year to one graduate and one undergraduate student in STEM programs who identify as LGBTQ, or are an active ally.

Grants for LGBTQ Students

Bee's Fund Microgrants

The Stonewall Foundation offers Bee's Fund Microgrants to any LGBTQ individual in financial need. These microgrants are awarded in the amount of $25 to $650, which are given to individuals in the LGBTQ community who have need for support. Applicants must reside in the United States and identify as LGBTQ. These microgrants may be applied to a wide range of expenses.

Roy Scrivner Memorial Resarch Grant

The American Psychological Foundation offers the Roy Scrivner Memorial Resarch Grant of $11,000 to a single graduate student who has demonstrated a strong commitment to researching LGBTQ family issues. The grant was established with the hope of advancing the research and study of LGBTQ family psychology and therapy. You need a letter of recommendation from a faculty advisor to apply for this grant.

The Wayne F. Placek Grants

The Wayne F. Placek Grants offer $10,000 grants to graduate students and early career individuals conducting research about the general public's understanding of sexual orientation and homosexuality. The American Psychological Foundation has awarded over $1 million in Placek grants since 1995 encouraging research that addresses familial and workplace issues affecting LGBTQ people.

Additional Scholarships and Grants

Organizations and Resources for LGBT Students

Locating resources and organizations that support LGBTQ students are not always easy to find, especially when you're searching for specific types of support. Among the wide array of organizations out there, here are some in particular that are doing work specifically geared towards helping and supporting LGBTQ students:

Human Rights Campaign (HRC)

The HRC was founded in 1980, and since then has grown into the largest LGBTQ civil rights organization in existence with over 3 million members. The HRC is an amazing resource for all LGBTQ and questioning individuals.

Campus Pride Index

Campus Pride Index is a volunteer-run nonprofit network of LGBTQ students working together to gather information on programs, resources and services that directly support LGBTQ students. They have a lot of resources for prospective LGBTQ students applying to college.

The Point Foundation

The Point Foundation is the largest LGBTQ student scholarship fund organization in the nation. Point seeks to help LGBTQ students through leadership development, mentorship and scholarship funding opportunities for students of merit.

Finding Resources on Google or other Search Platforms

Some key words that can help you out when searching for LGBTQ resources can be found in the acronym. You can search for "Lesbian," "Gay," "Bisexual," "Trans" and "Queer" scholarships which can help you locate identity-specific scholarships and sources of funding. It's important to try and be as specific as possible in your search for identity-specific forms of resources. It's also important to note that not all gender and sexual identities are represented by the LGBTQ acronym.

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