Scholarships for LGBTQ+ Students

Paying for post-secondary education, including beauty school, can be a challenge for many people. However, LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning people, and others who identify as part of this community) students may have an even more difficult time affording school. This is largely due to experiencing higher rates of housing insecurity and less stable support systems than their straight, cisgender peers.

However, college or trade school doesn't need to be out of reach for LGBTQ+ learners. Many scholarships and grants are available to help pay for tuition, books, and other expenses.

This guide will explore a variety of scholarships available for LGBTQ+ students interested in pursuing vocational education. We'll go over a few additional resources, including scholarship databases, some general tips and tricks for searching and applying, and information about other forms of student financial aid.

LGBTQ+ Students in the School Environment

GLSEN's 2019 National School Climate Survey shows a significant percentage of LGBTQ+ teenagers experienced harassment and fear in K-12 school, with little adult support when they reported incidents. Some even felt they were punished simply for how they identified, even if that violated school rules. Those who experienced higher levels of harassment were twice as likely to say they didn't plan to attend post-secondary education, including trade school, than their peers.

Fortunately, the beauty industry is becoming increasingly LGBTQ+ inclusive. Many companies focus on breaking down gender norms so everyone can express themselves through hair and makeup, and members of the LGBTQ+ community own a growing number of beauty businesses.

This inclusivity makes a beauty school education and cosmetology career an attractive option for many LGBTQ+ students. Plus, the coursework is typically shorter and less expensive than many other types of education.

Vocational Scholarships for the LGBTQ+ Community

If you need help paying for cosmetology school, numerous scholarships are available for vocational, undergraduate, and graduate students from the LGBTQ+ community. Keep in mind that cosmetology and other beauty programs are typically considered vocational or trade schools, though some are part of associate degree programs.

These nine scholarships can help LGBTQ+ individuals pay for a beauty school education.

Expand All
APIQWTC Scholarship
Apply by February 14 $2,500

The Asian Pacific Islander Queer Women & Transgender Community (APIQWTC, pronounced "api-cutesy") offers this scholarship to two Asian/Pacific Islander queer, lesbian, or bisexual women or transgender people each year. The site specifically references technical, professional, and trades education, though they offer it for any tuition-based educational program.

You must include a one-page cover letter, resume, portfolio, responses to several questions, one to two letters of recommendation, and a transcript.

Apply for this scholarship

This unique scholarship is exclusively for Black lesbians aged 50 or older. You must be accepted to or currently enrolled in a vocational, undergraduate, or graduate program with a 3.0 GPA or higher. The application requires a transcript, two essay questions, three letters of recommendation, and a recent photo.

Apply for this scholarship

As a California-based nonprofit organization aiming to connect the Black LGBTQ community, Better Brothers LA offers scholarships to Black LGBTQ+ youth attending or accepted to an accredited degree, licensing, or vocational program.

Apply for this scholarship

American Atheists offers this scholarship to those in vocational or college educational environments, including those about to graduate from high school and enroll. To qualify, you must be an atheist who advocates and works for LGBTQ+ equality.

You must have a 2.5 GPA or higher in academic subjects and don't need to be LGBTQ+ so long as your activism is profound. While you won't need to be a member of American Atheists to apply, you must be a member to accept the award. All applicants are eligible for a one-year membership to American Atheists.

American Atheists also created scholarships for students striving to make the world a better place, so it may be worth exploring their other options.

Apply for this scholarship

This scholarship for gay men under age 35 can be used for technical, undergraduate, or graduate school expenses. Factors considered are need, community service, overcoming obstacles, and various other factors.

Like many awards, they factor in involvement in the LGBTQ+ community. However, their FAQs page explains they understand many rural areas don't have many opportunities for this involvement. So, they don't just look for official school groups—they pay close attention to the application as a whole.

Apply for this scholarship

Members of the LGBTQ+ community who are about to graduate from high school may apply for this set of scholarships. You must plan to attend an accredited vocational school or college, have a 3.0 or better GPA, and submit two essays and two letters of recommendation. The more leadership roles played in the LGBTQ+ community, the better.

The scholarships include the Laurel Hester Memorial Scholarship, the Matthew Shepard Memorial Scholarship, the Tyler Clementi Memorial Scholarship, and the LEAGUE Foundation Scholarships. One application works for all scholarships.

Apply for this scholarship

PFLAG chapters in more than 20 states across the U.S. offer scholarships for LGBTQ+ students pursuing post-secondary education. Requirements, deadlines, and awards vary by state and chapter—check your local PFLAG chapter for details.

Apply for this scholarship

Members of the LGBTQ+ community who plan to obtain an associate degree or transfer to a four-year college are eligible to apply for this award. Financial need, academic achievement, community involvement, and general personal history are all considered.

In addition to the financial award, students receive admissions counseling, financial education, personal academic coaching, and access to a network of like-minded people.

Apply for this scholarship

This scholarship is open to lesbian women at any college education level, from those about to finish high school through graduate school students. You must answer three essay questions, have a letter of recommendation, and supply your most recent transcripts, though GPAs aren't considered. In addition, you must have a proven track record of improving the lives of LGBTQ+ people, community service, leadership, and academic achievement.

Apply for this scholarship

Again in 2024, Uptown Gay and Lesbian Alliance (UGLA) is supporting scholarships for students pursuing vocational or two-year programs at Pasadena City College (Pasadena, CA) and Glendale City College (Glendale, CA). These awards are administered by the individual colleges as part of their own scholarship program. Click here to learn more.

UGLA also offers scholarships for graduating Los Angeles County (CA) area high school students planning to attend a four-year college or university to pursue a bachelor’s program. Click here for more information.

Apply for this scholarship

Scholarship Resources for LGBTQ Students

The above list of scholarships is not all-inclusive. You can find scholarships from various resources, mainly local or regional groups—try searching for "LGBTQ scholarships in state/region" to get even more results. There are also several LGBTQ+ scholarship databases, including:

Campus Pride National Scholarship Database
Campus Pride provides a searchable database of LGBTQ+ scholarships. They're also an excellent resource for various other collegiate topics, like information about the most (and least) inclusive campuses and special events.

PFLAG Scholarship Programs
This is a list of scholarships offered by PFLAG chapters. If your local PFLAG chapter isn't listed, this doesn't mean it offers no scholarships. Check their website directly.

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center
The Center offers a variety of scholarships for members of the LGBTQ+ community with varying requirements and deadlines.

Human Rights Campaign LGBTQ Student Scholarship Database
You can search for scholarships, fellowships, and grants for members of the LGBTQ+ community here.

How to Search for Scholarships and Other Aid

When searching for school funding, don't forget to look for any beauty school scholarships you may qualify for. In addition to those specifically for the LGBTQ+ community, you may be able to find scholarships for nearly any group you identify with, based on your need or academic prowess, and even scholarships with little to no requirements at all.

For example, you can apply for the Beauty Schools Directory Beauty & Wellness Professional Scholarship worth $2,500!

In addition to scholarships, be sure to check out other forms of financial aid, like grants and loans.

Many scholarship applications require you to have completed a FAFSA, which also informs your federal aid eligibility. The FAFSA asks for your financial information and that of your family if you're considered a dependent.

LGBTQ+ Scholarship Application Tips

Many organizations want applicants to have participated in LGBTQ+ advocacy, organizations, and leadership positions. You may feel worried that you don't qualify for these scholarships if you live in an area where groups weren't available or because you're only recently out.

In these cases, be sure to write your essays or short answers in a way that makes your background clear and your focus on the future key. You can also reach out to the scholarship granting organization directly with any questions you have on this topic—you aren't the only person in this position, even if it may feel like you are!

Just as on job applications, essay and short answer prompts may be similar across several applications. To speed up the process, keep a running document with questions and answers so you can copy, alter, and paste as needed. Always be sure to read the questions closely!

Paying for Beauty School Without Scholarships

Let's say the scholarship, loan, and grant route doesn't work out for you. If so, it isn't the end of the world! It could take a while, but putting aside just a few dollars from each paycheck at your job can make a big difference.

You can also look into beauty-related side hustles to earn some extra income. And don't forget, some programs are shorter and less expensive than others. You could always go for a shorter program like nail technology, work in the field for a bit, and return to school for your complete cosmetology program. Many states offer crossover programs for people who opt to go this route.

Even if you use loans or pay out of pocket for school, you may also be able to qualify for tuition reimbursement through your current or future employer. Be sure to ask about such opportunities at work and when interviewing for new jobs.

Select a beauty program and state to view schools