Ever wish you had one of those rich friends? You know, the type who are fun, mega-generous and enjoy bestowing their wealth on worthy parties – i.e. you? If you demonstrate exceptional academic achievement, leadership and commitment to pursing the CPA designation, the AICPA Minority Scholarship could be exactly that friend. Over the past four decades this likeable program has provided over $14.6 million in scholarships to approximately 8,000 accounting scholars. That goes a long way toward explaining its ongoing popularity – in the 2010-11 academic year, 92 accounting students from all over the country were awarded a total of $254,000.

How it started

If you had to guess, how many minority CPAs would you say there were in this country in 1969? 5,000? 10,000? Try 150. Yep – the entirety of the category would have a hard time filling up a hotel conference room, let alone changing a cultural landscape. In fact, that year the Journal of Accountancy called us out as one of the nation’s least diverse professions1. The AICPA quickly moved to create several programs for attracting and retain ethnic minorities in our profession – like the one you’re reading about now. It has become one of our most successful programs ever.

Perk #1

But it’s more than just a program. Receive this scholarship and in addition to supporting your studies, the AICPA will send you to a two-day, all-expenses paid workshop. There you’ll have the opportunity to meet other recipients as well as CPA professionals, face-to-face. It’s great because you’re talking to people who know the things you’re trying to study up on – the CPA Exam, life in the business workforce – without worrying whether they’ll hire you or not. (You can read all about the Accounting Scholars Leadership Workshop here.)

Perk #2

Beyond the workshop, you’ll also get to expand your knowledge as part of an exclusive scholars-only community group on ThisWayToCPA. Here you can connect and share resources with students from just about everywhere, discussing all things school-related as well as the CPA Exam. It’s a new addition to the scholarship, starting in 2011 and based on feedback from past recipients. They said they’d like to be more engaged; we said “Not a problem.”

Perk that may not sound like one

Receiving the AICPA Minority Scholarship means you’ll be performing some community service – at least eight hours’ worth. Nothing too strenuous, though – just advocating for the CPA profession on campus and in the community. What you do specifically is up to you (just have us approve it in advance), so get creative. Organize a presentation about financial literacy and accounting to high school students, perhaps? Guest-author an article for your state CPA society? Sky’s the limit. We’ll even help you get ready, with public-speaking coaching and presentation-skills building.

What it takes

First off, to be eligible you have to be enrolled as a full-time undergraduate or graduate-level student. That probably goes without saying. You also need to be an AICPA student affiliate member (easy enough) and have an overall GPA of 3.3 or better. Aside from that, we’re looking for declared accounting, finance or related majors who intend to pursue the CPA license. (After all, the CPA is the goal, right?) Check out full program eligibility requirements.

What to do

You can apply via an online application. The questions are similar to the ones you see when applying for college or graduate school. The application also includes two essays – one on why you want to become a CPA and how they plan to achieve that goal, and one on your plan to serve as a campus ambassador for the CPA profession in the upcoming academic year.

The application deadline is April 1. Want to stay posted on the AICPA Minority Scholarship program or other AICPA-sponsored student programs? Just say the word: Email scholarships@aicpa.org.

1Mitchell, Bert. “Responsibility to Embrace Diversity.” Journal of Accountancy: Oct 2005. Available at the Journal of Accountancy.