As a transgender student navigating the complex path to higher education, you face a myriad of financial and social challenges that often seem insurmountable. While laws aim to protect students from discrimination, the reality is that prejudice and misconceptions about gender identity persist in subtle and overt ways on campuses and in communities across the country. The costs of medical care, counseling, and basic living expenses strain already tight budgets for many transgender students and their families. Despite these obstacles, a college education remains critical to ensuring a bright future with meaningful career opportunities. The SMILE Scholarship provides a lifeline for transgender students to pursue their dreams of a college degree. With the financial burden lightened, students can focus on their academic work and gaining invaluable life experiences that will shape them for years to come. The SMILE Scholarship opens doors to a world of possibility.
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Overview of the SMILE Scholarship for Transgender Students
The SMILE Scholarship for Transgender Students provides financial assistance for transgender and non-binary students pursuing post-secondary education.
The SMILE Scholarship aims to help transgender and non-binary students overcome the additional financial barriers they often face in accessing higher education. The scholarship covers up to $5,000 of tuition fees per year for two years. Recipients can use the funds at any accredited post-secondary institution in the United States or Canada.
To be eligible, applicants must:
- Identify as transgender or non-binary
- Be enrolled in or accepted to an accredited post-secondary program
- Demonstrate financial need
- Have a minimum GPA of 2.5 (or equivalent)
The selection committee evaluates applicants based on their personal essay, academic achievements, and demonstrated leadership or community service activities that promote inclusion and advocacy for the LGBTQIA+ community.
The application opens in January of each year. Applicants submit an online form that includes:
- Contact and personal information
- Post-secondary program details
- High school and any post-secondary transcripts
- A personal essay discussing their gender identity, goals, and community involvement
- Two letters of reference from teachers, employers, or community leaders
Recipients are announced in June. Funds are paid directly to the post-secondary institution for the following academic year. Recipients may reapply for a second year of funding.
The SMILE Scholarship aims to empower transgender and non-binary students through education and support. By easing their financial burden, the scholarship helps these students thrive and become leaders in their communities.
Eligibility Requirements for the SMILE Scholarship
To be eligible for the SMILE Scholarship, applicants must meet several requirements.
Applicants must be citizens or permanent residents of the United States or Canada.
Applicants must be currently enrolled or planning to enroll in an accredited post-secondary institution, including colleges, universities, vocational-technical schools, and certificate programs in the United States or Canada.
Applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. Transcripts must be submitted to verify GPA.
Applicants must demonstrate financial need. Information on family income, household size, and personal financial responsibilities must be submitted. The scholarship committee will evaluate applications based on the overall financial situation.
Applicants must self-identify as transgender, including but not limited to those who identify as trans men, trans women, non-binary, genderqueer or gender non-conforming. A personal essay discussing what being transgender means to the applicant and how it has impacted their life experiences is required.
To apply for the SMILE Scholarship, visit the program website and submit all required documentation by the deadline. Meeting all eligibility criteria does not guarantee an award, as a limited number of scholarships are available. However, for those selected, the SMILE Scholarship aims to help alleviate financial barriers to education and empower the next generation of leaders in the transgender community.
How to Apply for the SMILE Scholarship for Transgender Students
To apply for the SMILE Scholarship for Transgender Students, follow these steps:
Review the Eligibility Criteria
The SMILE Scholarship is available for transgender students pursuing an undergraduate degree at an accredited U.S. college or university. Applicants must have a minimum 3.0 GPA and demonstrate financial need.
Gather the Required Documents
You will need to provide the following documents with your application:
- A completed application form which can be found on the SMILE Scholarship website. Be sure to fill out all sections thoroughly and accurately.
- Official high school and/or college transcripts to verify your GPA. Unofficial transcripts will not be accepted.
- Two letters of recommendation from teachers, counselors, or community leaders who can speak to your character and potential for success. Ask them to highlight your qualities, work ethic, and perseverance in overcoming obstacles.
- A personal essay of 500 to 1000 words describing your experiences as a transgender student and your future goals. Share how this scholarship would enable you to reach these goals. Your essay is a chance to bring your application to life for the review committee.
- Documentation of your family’s financial situation such as tax returns, W-2 forms, or a FAFSA report. The SMILE Scholarship aims to support those with exceptional need.
Submit Your Application
Applications must be submitted online or postmarked by June 1st. Late or incomplete applications will not be considered. Upload all supporting documents with your application or mail them together in one packet to:
The SMILE Scholarship Foundation
123 Main Street, Suite 200
San Francisco, CA 94122
Winners will be announced on August 1st. If selected as a recipient, you will receive an award letter with details on how the scholarship funds will be distributed to your college or university.
What the SMILE Scholarship Covers
The SMILE Scholarship for Transgender Students provides funding to cover many of the costs associated with higher education. Recipients can use the scholarship money for:
Tuition and Fees
The scholarship amount, up to $5,000 per year for up to 4 years, can be put toward the cost of tuition, university fees and college expenses at accredited 2- or 4-year colleges, universities or vocational-technical schools in the United States. The funds are paid directly to the school to offset costs.
Books and Supplies
The scholarship also provides additional funding, up to $500 per year, to help cover the price of required books, supplies and equipment for your program of study. These funds are paid directly to the student to purchase necessary materials.
Room and Board
For students living on campus, the scholarship offers up to $1,000 per year to assist with room and board costs, such as dorms, meal plans and campus housing fees. Students living off-campus may also use the funds to help pay rent for an apartment or housing near the school.
The SMILE scholarship recognizes that the costs of college go beyond just tuition and fees. Additional funding of up to $500 per year is available to help students pay for essentials like a computer, transportation, healthcare or childcare. Students can use this part of the scholarship at their own discretion to cover important expenses that might otherwise derail their education.
In summary, the SMILE Scholarship for Transgender Students aims to relieve the financial burden of college so recipients can focus on their studies and become leaders in their communities. The funds provide comprehensive support for the total cost of attendance at an accredited school. By covering tuition, books, housing and living expenses, the scholarship opens the door for transgender students to pursue their dreams of a college education.