Scholarship Programs for Italian Americans

A full 6% of the US population can claim direct ancestry to Italy, thanks in no small part to large groups of Italian immigrants coming to America in the 19th and 20th centuries. Italian Americans are such a visible and vocal ethnic group, they occupy entire neighborhoods in big cities and form a voting block large enough to have congressional representation.

Italian Americans are proud of their heritage, and have been instrumental in spreading the Roman Catholic religion across America, a country formerly Protestant-only. The size of the Italian American population and the big influence they’ve had on American government, religion, and business means that plenty of scholarship groups exist to assist Italian Americans in paying for college.

Italian American Scholarships

Italian American Scholarships

Americans of Italian descent have a lot of different avenues for pursuing scholarship offers. Italian American societies exist all over the country, many of which provide financial assistant to Italian Americans pursuing a college degree. Since many Italian Americans are Catholic, charities and scholarship groups based in the Catholic Church are another common source of college funding for Italian Americans. Finally, Italian Americans have access to all the scholarship and grant offers made available to Americans of all ethnicities. In short, Italian Americans can find scholarship offers and college financial assistance just about anywhere they look.

Italian American Scholarship Needs

In the early days of Italian immigration to America, cultural traditions in Italy clashed with those found here in America. Large family sizes, traditional in Italy, made it difficult for newly-minted Italian American families to send their kids to college. Since college is a big part of the American dream, putting their children through college became a point of pride for Italians living in America, as it did for all ethnic groups migrating here over the past 150 years or so. At that time, with large family sizes and few advocacy groups for Italian Americans, scholarships for Americans of Italian descent were hard to come by and in great demand.

These days, Italian Americans are fully integrated into American culture. Gone are the stereotypical large Italian family (for the most part), and groups supporting Italian heritage and providing funding for Italian Americans to go to college are easy to find.

How Hard Is it to Find Scholarships for Italian Americans?

The good news for Italian American students looking for college funding these days is that scholarships for Italian Americans are very easy to come by. If there is an Italian American heritage organization in your area, contact them to find out about scholarship deals targeted to Americans of Italian descent.

Your neighborhood church may have special scholarship offers for prospective college students as well, and since religion has always been a big part of Italian American culture, you likely have many church groups to petition for college assistance. In short, finding scholarships for Italian Americans isn’t difficult at all. You just have to know where to look.

Scholarship Offers for Italians

Here is a quick look at three scholarship and aid package offers for Italian Americans. This list of scholarship offers is a cross-section of the types of awards available to people of Italian heritage living in America. To get an idea of the types of financial aid offers Italians have access to, check out these scholarship offers in detail.

1. NIAF Scholarships

The National Italian American Foundation has a wide range of scholarships offers for Italian American prospective college students. These awards range from $2,000 – $12,000 each, some of which are renewable, some of which are one-time-only awards. NIAF has two tiers of awards; one set for Italian American students who have achieved high academic standards, and one set for students of any background who major in the Italian language, Italian studies, Italian American studies, or any related degree plan. Preference for these awards goes to students with the best standardized test scores, though outstanding extra-curricular activity can be awarded as well.

2. OSIA Scholarships

The Order Sons of Italy in America also hands out scholarship awards to students of Italian descent based on academic merit. These awards are one-time only and range from $5,000 to $25,000 dollars. To be eligible for this award, a student must have at least one grandparent born in Italy or Sicily. Applying for an OSIA scholarship is a matter of submitting a high school transcript and essay. Tthe topic of the essay changes from year to year, so be sure to check the website for more details. These OSIA scholarships are an example of the wide variety of awards available to Italian American students from one of many different national foundations dedicated to Italian Americans.

3. Augustus Society Scholarships

Italian Americans also have the choice of looking for locally-established scholarships for students from specific parts of the country. The Augustus Society Scholarships are for students of Italian descent who are legal residents of Clark County, Nevada and enrolled full-time in the next calendar year. These awards are need-based, though strong consideration is given to Italian American students who demonstrate lots of community involvement. These awards are for $1,000 per academic year and are not eligible for renewal. Checking for Italian American scholarships for students in your state is a great way to find offers that you may otherwise have overlooked in favor of national Italian American heritage awards.

Italian Americans planning on attending college benefit from a large infrastructure of Italian American heritage groups, scholarship foundations, and faith-based college aid. Take advantage of all of the scholarship offers at your disposal, and there’s no reason any American of Italian heritage should have to pay the full cost of a college education. Browse through the above offers and search out your own. Contact local Italian-American heritage groups and even your local Catholic church to find out about aid offers and applications for prospective college students.

by Will Roby

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