Esperanza Education Fund Scholarship

The Esperanza Education Fund provides scholarships to students from Maryland; Virginia; and Washington, DC who are immigrants or the children of immigrants.

Application deadline: April 1, 2022

Questions? Write to



To apply, you must meet all of the following criteria:

  • You were born outside the U.S., or both your parents were born outside the U.S.
  • You plan to enroll full-time at an accredited public college, university, or community college in the year the scholarship is awarded.
  • You are a graduating senior at a high school in Maryland, DC, or Virginia, or you earned your GED within the last four years and reside in Maryland, DC, or Virginia.
  • Your household income for 2021 was less than $100,000.

We do not make exceptions to these criteria. If you do not meet all four criteria, please do not apply. Applications from ineligible applicants will not be reviewed.

There are no citizenship requirements for the Esperanza Education Fund Scholarship.

Scholarship Benefits

Approximately 8 to 12 Esperanza Education Fund Scholars are selected each year. 

Scholars receive tuition funds, mentorship, and other educational and professional opportunities.


Scholarships range from $3,000 to $20,000.

Scholarship amounts are determined based on need.

Scholarships will be disbursed equally across the years of the degree. For example, a scholar awarded $6,000 to attend community college would receive $3,000 per year for two years. A scholar awarded $10,000 for a four-year university would receive $2,500 per year for four years.


Each Esperanza scholar is paired with a mentor who will work with the scholar throughout the course of their degree. When possible, we pair scholars with mentors who work in the scholar’s chosen career field. Mentors meet with scholars regularly and advise them on academic success, internships, campus activities, and more.

Mentors and scholars often build strong, long-lasting relationships.

Other Opportunities

  • Annual Career Day with professional development activities
  • Cohort activities to build community among our scholars
  • And more!

How to Apply

Visit to apply. The application will open on or around January 1, 2022.

Application Components

  • Household financial information
  • Family background
  • Intended college or university
  • High school transcript or GED scores
  • SAT or ACT scores (optional)
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Two essays
  • Two letters of recommendation

Application deadline: April 1, 2022

Privacy Policy

The Esperanza Education Fund uses the external scholarship management software AwardSpring for our scholarship management. We abide by and enforce AwardSpring’s privacy policy (below).

Sample PDF of Past Application (Reference Only)

Sample PDF Esperanza Scholarship Application *Use your Zoom In computer function to enlarge screenshots if they appear small.

The above PDF is for reference and planning only. Please use the online application to submit your application.

Selection Process

All eligible applications submitted by April 1 will be read by multiple judges. The top 16-24 applicants will be invited to interview. A panel of approximately five to seven judges will interview the finalists and select the top 8-12 to receive scholarships.


April 1: Application deadline

Early May: Notification of finalists

Mid-May: Finalist interviews

Late May: Notification of scholars

Selection Criteria

Judges score applications on three criteria: academic achievement, extracurricular involvement, and distance traveled.

Academic achievement: This score is based on applicants’ high school GPA, class rank (if available), SAT or ACT scores (if available), and number of honors/AP/IB courses taken.

Extracurricular involvement: This is broadly defined. For example, someone working 20 hours per week might score highly in this section. High scores might also be awarded to someone who founded or served as president of a club at their school, who has performed a great deal of community service, or who watches their younger siblings every day after school while their parent works.

Distance traveled: This is metaphorical, not literal. Distance traveled is a measure of how much the student has achieved in light of the obstacles they have faced. For example, someone who crossed the border alone two years ago but has nonetheless achieved a 3.0 GPA and joined the soccer team would receive a high score. In contrast, a lower score might go to someone with a 4.0 GPA who was brought to the United States as an infant and was raised by parents who both had college degrees.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: I meet all the eligibility criteria except one. Can I apply?

A: No. You must meet all eligibility criteria in order to apply.

Q: I am already in college. Can I apply for the Esperanza Scholarship?
A: No. The Esperanza Scholarship is open only to high school seniors and recent GED graduates not yet enrolled in college.

Q: I have a GED and want to go to college. Can I apply for the Esperanza Scholarship?
A: Yes, you can apply as long as you passed your GED test within the last four years. Please be sure to select “I’m a GED student” when you reach the qualifications tab in the application.

Q: I want to go to a community college. Can I apply for the Esperanza Scholarship?
A: Yes, as long as you meet the other eligibility criteria. The Esperanza Scholarship provides two-year scholarships for students to attend community college.

Q: I am currently in community college and want to transfer to a four-year college. Can I apply for the Esperanza Scholarship?
A: No. The Esperanza Scholarship is open only to high school seniors or recent GED recipients.

Q: I live in California but want to attend college in Virginia. Can I apply for the Esperanza Scholarship?
A: No. The Esperanza Scholarship is open only to students graduating from high schools located in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia.

Q: I live in Virginia but want to attend a public college or university in California. Can I apply for the Esperanza Scholarship?
A: Yes, as long as you meet the other eligibility criteria. The Esperanza Scholarship can be used to attend any accredited public college or university in the U.S.

Q: I did not take the SAT or ACT. Can I apply for the Esperanza Scholarship?
A: Yes. If your college did not require you to take the SAT or ACT, you are not required to submit a score report.

Q: What is the Esperanza Education Fund’s College Board code?
A: The Esperanza Education Fund does not have a College Board code. Please make a copy of your score report in case you are selected as a finalist.

Q: Is there a minimum GPA requirement for the Scholarship? 
A: No, there is not minimum GPA requirement, but if you went to high school in the United States for all four years, we are unlikely to award you the scholarship if your GPA is under a 3.0.  If you moved to the United States during high school, we will take into account that grade conversion from your foreign high school may be inaccurate and may award you a scholarship if your cumulative GPA is under a 3.0.

Q: I have applied to several schools, but I haven’t decided where I will go yet. Can I apply for the Esperanza Scholarship?
A: Yes, as long as you applied to a public school and understand that you will not receive any scholarship funds if you do not enroll in a public college or university. If you apply for the scholarship and later decide to attend a private school, please email us at so that we can disregard your application.

Q: I am not sure if the school I want to attend is public or private. How can I tell?
A: Check on the school’s website or call the school’s admissions office.  If you type the school’s name into Google, the search results will indicate whether the school is public or private.  Most community colleges are public. Some popular public schools in the region include:

  • Northern Virginia Community College
  • Montgomery College
  • Prince George’s Community College
  • University of the District of Columbia
  • University of Maryland
  • University of Baltimore
  • Morgan State University
  • Salisbury University
  • Towson University
  • St. Mary’s College of Maryland
  • University of Virginia
  • College of William and Mary
  • Virginia Tech
  • James Madison University
  • University of Mary Washington
  • George Mason University

We put a drop box in the application with the most popular local colleges.  However, if you are going to a public college in another region, you are still eligible for the scholarship.  Please select “other” and then list a public institution.

Q: I was born in the United States, and only one of my parents is an immigrant. Can I apply for the Esperanza Scholarship?
A: No. The Esperanza Scholarship is open only to immigrants (born outside the United States) and those who are children of two immigrants.

Q: I was raised by a single parent who was born outside the United States. Can I apply?

A: Yes. We understand that some students may not have information about both their parents. As long as the parent you know about was born outside the United States, you can apply.

Q: My family is from Puerto Rico. Can I apply for the Esperanza Scholarship?
A: No. Because Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens, they are not considered immigrants.

Q: I am not a U.S. citizen or permanent legal resident. Can I apply for the Esperanza Scholarship?
A: Yes, as long as you meet the other eligibility criteria. The Esperanza Scholarship is open to all immigrant students, regardless of ethnicity, national origin, or immigration status.

Q: My tuition is covered by other scholarships. Will you pay for room and board or books?
A: No. The Esperanza scholarship will only pay for tuition. However, other scholarships may pay for both; therefore, you could potentially use the other scholarship’s money for room and board and Esperanza funds for tuition.

Q: How many applications do you receive per year, and how many scholarships do you award?
A: We receive 500-600 applications a year and award 8 to 12 scholarships.