How To Qualify For Native American Scholarships

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Indian Health Services Scholarship

How to pay for college – Scholarships for Native American students

Indian Health Services is the federal health program for American Indians and Alaskan Natives and provides comprehensive health services to them. The IHS Scholarship Program provides qualified American Indian and Alaska Native health profession students an opportunity to establish an educational foundation for each stage of their pre-professional careers.

What Are Tribal Colleges

Colleges and universities are the primary source of teaching and preserving tribal customs and cultures.

These are unique educational institutions that provide the opportunity for Native Americans to pursue higher education. They strive to preserve the students’ cultural and regional context, trying to help tribe members develop their economy and community.

The first college was founded in 1968 by Diné, Inc. By this time, there are 32 educational institutions in the United States located in areas with a high concentration of Native Americans. These are Montana, North and South Dakota, Minnesota, New Mexico, and several other states.

These colleges and universities receive little financial support from the state, so they rely on federal aid heavily. The next challenge is a small enrollment, which rarely reaches 1000 students. This is why all scholarships, grants, and other programs are pretty important.

Aaae Scholarship For Native Americans

  • Description of the Scholarship: The Association of Airport Executives provides funding for this scholarship which helps aviation students finish up their education.
  • How Much: $1,000
  • Who Should Apply: College juniors or seniors, and graduate students with a grade point average of 3.0 or higher and are enrolled in an aviation program
  • Application Deadline: March 31st
  • How to Apply: Your school must recommend you for the scholarship and only one Native American student from each school may be nominated. Contact your schools financial aid office to tell them you would like to be considered. Your school should receive application materials by the middle of February, but if they havent received materials by March 1st, they should request all materials from AAAE.

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How Much Native American To Get A Scholarship

The quantum, or percentage of blood or ancestry, a person needs to qualify for a Native American scholarship varies. In some cases, being able to prove any ancestry at all is sufficient. In others, you may need to demonstrate your student meets a specific minimum, like being at least one-quarter Native American, to qualify.

Tribal memberships requirements, like Native American scholarships, also differ from one tribe to the next. Many require at least one-quarter, while others only require one-eighth or one-sixteenth. In some cases, any degree is allowed. That means if you can prove your student is a descendant, no matter how far back, thatâs enough to qualify potentially.

Are You Ready To Discover Your College Program

Native American Scholarships: College Grants for Native Americans ...

Only 17 percent of Native American students enroll in college after high school, while the national average for all students is about 70 percent. Of the Native American students who start college, 82 percent drop out before they finish. This staggering number is mostly due to the lack of academic and financial resources available to many Native American students. Native American students who want to attend college have resources available. This guide provides an overview of the scholarships, grants and potential help available through tribal colleges for Native American students.

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Proving Native American Ancestry For College

Often, to qualify, your student will need documentation proving their Native American heritage meets the criteria. The same goes for tribal memberships, and enrollment criteria can vary from one tribe to the next.

If your student doesnât have any paperwork outlining their heritage, one place to start is with the Bureau of Indian Affairs . For example, the Certificate of Degree of Indian or Alaska Native Blood Instructions document has some excellent information regarding what you need to show in your documentation to qualify. You can also refer to the following document for more information: A Guide to Tracing American Indian and Alaska Native Ancestry

Itâs important to note that a consumer DNA test like AncentryDNA, 23andMe, or MyHeritage are not sufficient proof for Native American scholarships, grants, or tribal membership. Even if they show your student has a high enough percentage to potentially qualify, you still need to research their lineage if your student wants to pursue these opportunities.

Scholarships For Native American Students


Reviewer & Writer

  • Learn about various financial aid programs available to Native American students.
  • Locate scholarship programs and details for Native American undergraduate learners.
  • Find scholarships for Native American women, graduate students, and program-specific applicants.
  • Gain information on grants and other financial aid support resources.

Native Americans experience lower enrollment and educational attainment numbers in colleges and universities across the country, in some cases due to a lack of access to financial aid. At Tribal Colleges and Universities , students rely primarily on federal funding, as state funding and private endowments provide little aid.

According to Poverty USA, Indigenous Americans experience the highest poverty rates among all ethnic groups, highlighting the great need for financial support. While there is still a shortage of programs, this page highlights several Native American scholarships available to support these underserved students. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Look Into Other Scholarship Offerings

In addition to looking for scholarships for based on ethnicity, there are a lot of other scholarships based on other factors as well. These scholarships will help supplement your financial aid. There are scholarships based on financial need, academic performance and athletic performance.

There are also special scholarships for students that are the first ones in their families to attend college. Unique scholarships also exist for students that are tall, left-handed or make a duct-tape prom ensemble.

The Cherokee Promise Scholarship

Apply! For the Native American Scholarship Program

This scholarship is intended to provide low-income Cherokee students with financial assistance. This gives them the opportunity to pursue a higher education. The Education Services Groups and the Cherokee Nation Human Services have joined to develop and then administer the Cherokee Promise Scholarships.

This scholarship provides students a $1,000 housing scholarship and a $2,000 educational scholarship each semester. Cherokee Promise Students reside in a designated hall that has large rooms and houses other students of Cherokee ancestry. Students will be given specialized classes and a multitude of Cherokee cultural activities.

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Wisconsin Indian Student Assistance Grants

Deadline: Varies

The next Native American scholarships are through the State of Wisconsin Higher Educational Aids Board. The Wisconsin Indian Student Assistance Grants range from $250 to $1,000. They are available to undergraduate or graduate students enrolled at:

  • University of Wisconsin Schools
  • Specific Independent Colleges and Universities Based in Wisconsin
  • Tribal Colleges Based in Wisconsin
  • Proprietary Institutions Based in Wisconsin

Awards are based on financial need. Native Americans are eligible to receive financial aid for up to ten semesters. Applicants must include certification they are of at least one-quarter Native American ancestry. They also need proof of enrollment in a recognized tribe.

More Information:

Wisconsin Indian Student Assistance Grants

P.O. Box 7885

  • Asian Pacific Islander American students
  • Hispanic American students

The program is specifically for high-school seniors going directly to college after graduation. It is renewable each year, depending on satisfactory academic progress. Candidates must be attending an accredited four-year, non-profit private or public school.

Minority students receive funds for the full cost of tuition. But it is only for costs not already covered by other financial aid and the expected family contribution. However, they must also be eligible for the Pell Grant. Additionally, applicants must have a cumulative weighted GPA of 3.3 on a 4.0 scale. The program is highly selective, and ideal candidates will have

How To Pay For College


There are hundreds of scholarships for Native American students, which are awarded by local organizations, private companies, societies and more.


Grants dont need to be paid back and are based on your financial circumstances. They are usually funded by the federal government, your state or college.


While scholarships usually fund tuition, fellowships typically cover graduate study, research projects and abroad experiences without needing to be paid back.

Student Loans

You can borrow money from the government or a bank, but it needs to be paid back with interest. The federal government offers many loan optionsfill out the free application for Federal Student Aid to see if you qualify for financial aid. If you need help, use our interactive guide to learn how to answer every question.

Federal Work-Study Program

Provides part-time jobs for undergraduate and graduate students with financial need, allowing them to earn money to pay education expenses.

If youre just beginning the process of finding suitable scholarships, make sure youre prepared for the application process by starting a folder with the assets below.

Also Check: California Scholarships For Graduate Students

Tribal Aid Opens Doors

Tribes often step in with additional financial aid for their members, especially for students who are not eligible for any scholarships or grants from the school they are attending or from the various non-profits focused on Native Americans. While the aid amounts can be small, each tribe handles funding differently in terms of the amount of aid and application deadlines. Each student must check with his or her own tribe to confirm both the availability of aid and the process for winning aid. Here’s a look at how three tribes channel student financial aid to their members.

The Cherokee Nation provides scholarship aid to enrolled members who are pursuing bachelor’s degrees. Recipients must perform volunteer hours based on the amount of funding they are receiving: If they receive $2,000 in aid, the student would be required to volunteer for 20 hours. The community service can be completed with a non-profit organization or at a Cherokee Nation sponsored event. The volunteer work must be humanitarian or community-based.

The Navajo Nation offers scholarships and financial assistance to eligible Navajo people. Assistance varies with some scholarship amounts from $1,000 to $5,000 annually. Upon graduation, recipients are expected to return to the Navajo Nation to apply what they have learned to benefit the development of the Navajo Nation.

Challenges Faced By Native Americans


Native Americans face a number of challenges on the path to a college education. Since they are more likely than others to come from poverty-stricken families, affording college is tough. When Native Americans do find a way to afford college, whether through scholarships, grants, or loans, they still may have a hard time affording textbooks, lodging, and other necessities.

Other barriers to education for Native Americans include the distance of reservations from universities and a lack of reliable internet access on reservations, meaning its tough to take classes online. Furthermore, Native American students who are used to being surrounded by tribal members find themselves underrepresented in a sea of unfamiliar faces at college.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, less than 1% of faculty at colleges was Native American in 2005. Native American students on campus can have a hard time coping with a lack of community and cultural familiarity from faculty. Moreover, Native Americans may face discrimination intentional or unintentional from peers and faculty.

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Native American Women Scholarships

Application Deadline ~ March of each year

Award Amount up to $1000 per year

These scholarships for Native American women provide financial assistance to American Indian women currently enrolled in college. For details see

For additional American Indian scholarships and Native American scholarships, see Scholarships for Minorities .

What Academic Offerings Are Available

The Importance of Tribal Colleges

Tribal colleges serve a critical role in their communities. They’re usually the only opportunity for a post-secondary education for the local population. This is due not only because of their location, but because tuition and cost of attendance is generally less than that of a typical four-year university. Additionally, there are financial aid opportunities available only to students who are members of a federally recognized Native American Indian tribe or Alaska Native group.

Tribal colleges are the primary source of teaching and preserving tribal customs and cultures. Many tribes rely on the tribal college as a means of formally teaching the history and ideas of their respective tribes. To help students afford the cost of attendance, many schools and organizations offer school specific scholarships, such as the following:

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Experts Reveal 18 Places To Find Scholarship Money For College

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the authors opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been reviewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

There are plenty of scholarships and grants out there to help you pay for college. In the 2019-2020 year, college students received a total of $242 billion in grant money. The key to finding scholarships and grants for college is to start early and research all opportunities.

While its not completely free money for college you will have to compete for these awards you will almost never need to repay them, unlike with student loans. Here are 18 sources for scholarships and grants recommended by experts, broken down into the following categories:

American Indian College Fund Full Circle Scholarship Program

How to get Scholarships for Native Students

Deadline: May 31st

The next scholarship for Native Americans is the American Indian College Fund Full Circle Scholarship Porgram. These awards are eligible to any member of a state or federal government-recognized tribe or Alaska Native village. The American Indian College Fund was established in 1989. And it is the countrys largest charity supporting Native American students educational goals. The American Indian College Fund also provides support and tools to help Native American students once they are enrolled in college.

To receive the need-based Native American scholarships, applicants must be Native Americans, U.S. citizens, and enrolled full-time in an accredited U.S. university. American Indian College Fund applicants must be members of a recognized tribe or descendants of an enrolled tribal member. Additionally, candidates need to have a minimum GPA of 2.0 or better. Native American students can submit a new application for the American Indian College Fund scholarship for each academic year they attend.

More Information:

American Indian College Fund Full Circle Scholarship Program

8333 Greenwood Blvd.

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The Osage Tribal Education Committee Scholarship

This scholarship is available to all Osage Indians that are attending a vocational-technical school, university or college. The amount of Osage Indian Blood a student has in his ancestry is irrelevant, as is his place of residence. To receive an application, call or write the OTEC.

To write:

c/o Oklahoma Area Education Office200 Northwest 4th Street, Suite 4049Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73102

This scholarship must be reapplied for each semester. Deadlines are:

  • Spring-December 31

Scholarships Sponsored By Professional Associations

The private sector is a rich source for scholarships and grants dedicated to advancing the professional opportunities of Native Americans. American Indians and Alaskan Natives have been historically under-represented in many professional fields. Through scholarships and grant programs corporations and professional organizations are working to diversify the countrys professional workforce, and to encourage more Native Americans to pursue careers in science and industry. These programs offer valuable opportunities to Native American and Native Alaskan students pursuing their educational and professional ambitions.

Native American students searching for scholarships from the private sector should look for programs sponsored by businesses and associations closely allied to their field of interest. For example, a student of Cherokee ancestry who is interested in computer science will want to look for Native American scholarships supported by software companies, computer engineering firms, and professional associations of computer specialists.

The following examples should better illustrate the types of scholarship programs offered by the private sector for students of Native American descent.

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Native American Education Grant

  • Description of the Scholarship: About 50 awards a year are awarded by the Presbyterian Church General Assembly Mission Council to Native American students with all religious backgrounds.
  • How Much: $200-$2,500
  • Who Should Apply: Registered Native Americans undergraduates working on their first degree who are going to school full-time and have a 2.5 grade point average.
  • Application Deadline: Awarded on a funds available basis
  • How to Apply: Students will need to fill out a downloadable application is provided on the given website, provide a tribal ID or letter from their tribe, give financial and academic information. Call 888-728-7228 ext. 5224 or email: for more information

Write Thank You Notes And Keep All Important Information

Discover How to Qualify for Native American Scholarships â Cobell ...

If you receive a scholarship or grant, congratulations! A really nice thing to do is to formally thank the people that have helped you out. Write a handwritten thank you note and send it to the people behind the scholarship. Figure out the logistics of your financial aid as well. Find out if your financial aid will go straight to the school or if you will be mailed a check.

Make sure that money gets to your school before your bill is due. If you know it wont, talk to your school about options for delaying payment. Keep track of all the paperwork for your financial aid. This will be important when it comes time to pay taxes. It will also help you maintain a budget.

Paying for school can be very stressful for students and their families. Once you have completed these steps, you will be well on your way to paying for your education!

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