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"The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund is simply the best civil rights law firm in American history." -- President Obama

The Herbert Lehman Education Fund Scholarship


April 1, 2017

The application for the 2017 - 2018 Herbert Lehman award is now closed.

Applications for the 2017 - 2018 academic will be available soon.

The Herbert Lehman Scholarship is a national, highly competitive scholarship program that makes annual awards to qualified, outstanding undergraduate students.  The scholarship was established in 1964 and is named after the former Governor and United States Senator from New York State.  LDF chose to honor Senator Lehman in recognition of his integrity, persistence, and valor on behalf of numerous civil rights causes.

Herbert Lehman Scholarships were initially awarded to help African-American students attend formerly segregated four-year colleges and universities in the South and to increase the number of African Americans in the legal profession. 

The mission of the Herbert Lehman Fund is to help transform the promise of racial equality into a social, economic, and political reality for all people by supporting talented undergraduate students who need financial help to stay in school and successfully complete their bachelor’s degree.

Awards generally do not exceed four years.

Students who are interested in applying for Herbert Lehman Scholarships are strongly encouraged to review the eligibility criteria and program description before submitting an application. 

Eligibility & Award Criteria

  • U.S. Citizen
  • Graduating high school senior; first year student in an accredited four year college; or a student transferring into an accredited four year college
  • Financial need
  • Record of academic achievement
  • Demonstrated commitment to public service

Herbert Lehman Awards are $2,000 per year for four years (as long as scholars remain in good academic standing and continue to meet the scholarship criteria) for a total of $8,000.  Deadline for the scholarship is April 1.  Final decisions are made by the end of July.  All applicants will be notified of their status.

Scholarship Application Checklist – Your application must contain all nine items listed below:

  • Completed Scholarship Application Form
  • Copy of acceptance letter to college you will attend
  • 2 recommendation letters
  • Résumé
  • Copy of transcript from current school (finalists will be required to submit an official transcript)
  • 1 personal statement
  • 1 essay
  • Copy of SAT and ACT test scores
  • Copy of your Student Aid Report (FAFSA)
  • Finalists will be required to submit a head and shoulder photograph [Passport Size] when notified

How to Apply

IMPORTANT: We are accepting applications in email form ONLY. All nine items listed on the checklist must be attached in PDF format to one email and sent to with the heading: Herbert Lehman Scholarship - Last name, First name. If you need additional space in the application form, please attach a separate typed page. Applications send to LDF in paper form or fax will NOT be accepted.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • When is the application deadline for the Herbert Lehman Education Fund
    Applications must be EMAILED by April 1, 2017. Late or incomplete applications will not be considered.
  • Is there a minimum SAT, ACT, or GPA requirement to receive a Herbert Lehman?
    There is no minimum test score or GPA requirement. Any application review will take into account a candidate’s GPA, standardized test scores, letters of recommendation, financial need, volunteer activities and personal essays; however, no single component of an application will determine a scholarship award.
  • Am I eligible for a scholarship if I am not a U.S. citizen?
  • May I apply online?
    No. You must download a “fillable” PDF application to your computer and fill in the information by typing directly onto the form. Handwritten applications will not be accepted.
  • May I request an application by phone or e-mail?
    Yes, you may request an application by sending a request to This option is only available if an applicant is unable to download the application available on this website.
  • May I fax or mail my application to LDF?
  • How/when are awardees notified? Will I be notified if I don’t receive an award?
    Applicants for the Herbert Lehman Scholarship will be notified by mail of the award decision by middle of July whether they do or do not receive a scholarship.
  • What is the amount of the scholarship award? Is the award renewable for each year that I am in school
    Generally, Lehman Scholarships provide $2,000 annual grants. All awards may be renewed for each year of school provided the student continues full-time study, remains in good academic standing with his or her college or university, and fulfills all other program requirements.
  • May I apply for a Lehman Scholarship if I am not attending university in the United States?
    No. Lehman scholarships are only available to students who will be attending universities and colleges in the United States.
  • I will be attending a community college next year. May I apply for a Lehman Scholarship?
    No. Lehman Scholarships are only available to students who will be attending four-year colleges or universities full time. However, if you are transferring from community college to a four-year college or university, you may apply for the scholarship.