Smith Diversity Scholarship

University Funding FAQs

In 2024, the Smith Diversity Scholarship will award four renewable scholarships of $25,000 per year to four-year institutions, to students of marginalized racial and ethnic communities. Students can attend any accredited institution. Current Smith Scholars attend these schools across the state, nationwide, and abroad:

University of Nebraska – Lincoln
University of Nebraska – Omaha
Stanford University
New York University Abu Dhabi
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Nebraska Methodist College
The Institute of Culinary Education in New York
University of Pennsylvania
Iowa State

Due to the flexibility of these funds – which are intended to help students beyond the traditional tuition, books, and housing – this is one of the most unique scholarships available in the country.

Application Questions

  • To be eligible, students must:

    • Be graduating from a Nebraska high school or obtain GED in the current academic year and plan to begin their freshmen year of post-secondary the following academic year.
    • Be a resident of Nebraska at the time of graduation.
    • Household income is under $65,000.

    Students from marginalized racial and ethnic groups are encouraged to apply.

  • You do not need to be a U.S. citizen to apply, but you do need to be a documented resident of Nebraska and graduate from a high school in Nebraska.

  • No, it is free to apply for the Smith Diversity Scholarship.

  • Yes, you qualify for the Smith Diversity Scholarship. Please list “Home School” as your school name on your application.

  • There are no minimum grade point average (GPA), SAT or ACT requirements. We invite you to apply, regardless of past grades or test scores.

  • If you graduated high school or completed your GED within the current academic year, you may still qualify. Please reach out to or call (402) 978-5623 to confirm your eligibility.

  • Please list your first-choice school on the application. If you are selected for the scholarship, you will be asked to confirm your final school choice.

  • No, your application can be started, saved as a draft and returned to. You will need to complete and submit your application by the application deadline to be considered for the scholarship.

  • All applications must be finalized by January 28, 2024. Any applications received after that date will not be considered.

  • Due to the number of applications submitted, late applications will not be accepted.

Scholarship Questions

  • Yes. The scholarship can be used at any college or trade school for any major. Selected students attending four-year programs will receive $25,000 per year and two-year programs will receive $12,500 per year.

    Previous Smith Diversity Scholars have attended New York University of Abu Dhabi, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the University of North Carolina, and many more.

  • Applicants that are selected to receive the Smith Diversity Scholarship will be notified via phone and email in the first week of April 2024. Applicants who have not been selected will be notified by email.

  • If awarded the Smith Diversity Scholarship, the student’s academic information (i.e. GPA, class ranking, coursework, etc.) will need to be verified as well as proof of financial need. Financial need is defined as a low-income family whose adjusted gross family income must be $65,000 or lower.

  • Yes, the scholarship is renewable if criteria are met.

    • The recipient must maintain a minimum 3.4 GPA for each semester to renew the award.
    • If attending a four-year university, the scholarship provides an annual award for a maximum eight semesters, or until receipt of a bachelor’s degree.
    • If attending a trade school, the scholarship provides an annual award for a maximum of four semesters, or until receipt of degree.
  • If you are awarded other scholarships, that does not affect your eligibility for the Smith Diversity Scholarship. Each semester, any excess funds from the Smith Diversity Scholarship will be given to the recipient to assist with other personal expenses.

  • Yearly payments shall be made directly to the Scholarship Recipient’s school account in two equal payments: half in the first semester (fall semester) and half in the second semester (spring semester) once renewal criteria are met.

    If the recipient’s tuition bill is less than the allocated awarded per year, the Scholarship Recipient shall retain the additional funds to assist with other expenses.

  • Yes, all listed references will receive an auto email from If you are unable to find the email, search your spam or junk folder.

Other Questions

  • The Smith Diversity Scholarship is funded through the generosity of Donna and Coyner Smith. In 2020, Lutheran Family Services received a $3,000,000 gift to establish the Coyner and Donna Smith Diversity Scholarship Fund to provide a college education for graduating high school seniors with financial need from marginalized racial and ethnic backgrounds.

  • If you have additional questions, please reach out to or call (402) 978-5623.