Grants & Scholarships for Native Americans
College can be expensive, but for Native Americans (or those with some American Indian descent), there are financial aid programs that can help. Here are a number of grants and scholarships for Native Americans you might consider.
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College tuition is expensive. Throw in the countless other expenses that come with higher education, and it’s no wonder student loan debt is such a sweeping problem in our country.
Fortunately, for Native Americans looking to attend school, there are a number of grants and scholarships that can help reduce these costs. Are you hoping to further your education without breaking the bank? These grants and scholarships for Native Americans can help.
In this guide:
- Federal grants for Native Americans
- The American Indian College Fund
- Other Native American scholarships and grants
- Tribal financial aid
- How to prove eligibility for Native American scholarships and grants
Federal grants for Native Americans
The federal government offers a number of American Indian scholarships and grant programs that you may be able to take advantage of. There are also more general financial aid programs that can help offset the costs of college as well.
Here are a few you might want to consider:
- Bureau of Indian Education Higher Education Grant: BIE grants are need-based and offer funding for students with at least one-quarter Native American blood. Students must be accepted into an associate’s or bachelor’s degree program. There are several grants and scholarships under this program.
- Indian Health Service Scholarships: IHS’s scholarship program is designed for American Indian students pursuing a degree in health professions.
- Udall Scholarship: The Udall Scholarship offers up to $7,000 to 55 Native American sophomores and juniors committed to a career bettering the governance, care, or public policy of American Indians.
- Federal Pell Grant: These are grants for undergraduate students with demonstrated financial need. You must be pursuing your first degree to qualify. You can learn more about Pell Grants here.
- TEACH Grants: If you’re planning to pursue a teaching degree, the TEACH Grant may be able to help. Some test score and GPA requirements may apply.
The first three programs all require the student or at least one parent be an enrolled, documented member of a federally recognized tribe. You’ll also need to apply for a Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood with the Department of Indian Affairs.
>> Read more: LendEDU’s Guide to College Scholarships
The American Indian College Fund
The American Indian College Fund helps further the education of American Indians, as well as their native tribes and communities. It was founded in 1989 and offers scholarships and educational programming to Native Americans.
Currently, AICF offers two scholarships, including:
- Tribal College and University Scholarships: TCU scholarships can be used at 35 tribal colleges across the country. The schools themselves award these funds.
- Full Circle Scholarship: This program is open to undergraduate and graduate American Indian or Alaska Native students who are attending either a tribal college, nonprofit college, or other type of accredited school.
Other Native American scholarships and grants
There are dozens of other Native American college grants and scholarships, too. Some of these are offered by various community groups and organizations, while some are career- and degree-specific.
Here are some you may want to consider:
- Association of American Indian Affairs Scholarships: The AAIA offers scholarships to American Indian students with at least a 2.5 GPA and enrollment in an associate’s degree plan or higher. An essay is also required.
- American Indian Science and Engineering Society: AISES offers a variety of scholarships for Native American students interested in science, math, engineering, and more.
- Intertribal Timber Council Scholarships:These scholarships are open to students studying natural resources.
- Native American Journalists Association Scholarships:With NAJA’s Facebook Journalism Project Scholarship, journalism and media students of Native American descent can get up to $10,000 in scholarship funding.
- Continental Society Daughters of Indian Wars Scholarships: CSDIW’s scholarships are designed for students studying education or social service. Qualifying applicants should intend to use their degree to work with fellow Native Americans.
- National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development Scholarships: The NCAIED offers scholarships for business majors. Applicants are evaluated based on grades, community involvement, personal challenges, business experience, and essay quality.
- American Indian Education Fund Scholarships: The AIEF offers around 225 scholarships annually to full-time American Indian or Alaska Native students. They must be attending two-year, four-year, or graduate school programs.
- American Indian Graduate Center Scholarships: The AIGC offers six different scholarships, including ones for students enrolled in finance/accounting, STEM, or veterinary degree programs. There are also Wells Fargo Scholarships that offers up to $5,000 per year, as well as paid fellowships for graduate students.
- American Indian Services Scholarships: This scholarship program is open to undergraduate students enrolled at least part-time with a 2.25 GPA at minimum. The FAFSA form is required.
- American Institute of Certified Public Accountants Scholarships: This scholarship is designed for minority students enrolled in accounting programs and is open to Native American applicants. The program offers between $3,000 and $5,000 for each winner.
- Daughters of the American Revolution Scholarships: DAR offers $4,000 scholarships to Native Americans with a GPA of 3.25 or higher. The organization also offers a scholarship for students attending the College of William and Mary.
- NativeVision Scholarships: These scholarships are offered for students intending to study health to further the care of Native American populations.
- AAAE Foundation Scholarship for Native Americans: This foundation offers $1,000 scholarships for Native American students who are currently in their last two years of education. In order to be eligible, students do not need to be members of the AAAE, but they do need to be enrolled in an aviation program, and have at least a 3.0 grade point average.
- Ford Motor Company Tribal Scholarship: This scholarship offers awards of up to $3,000 each year. Students must demonstrate financial need and major in STEM fields, business, education, or environmental science. In addition, students must have a minimum of a 3.0 grade point average and have demonstrated leadership within the Native American community. Students do not need to be members of a tribe themselves if they can prove they have a parent or grandparent who is a tribal member. In addition, preference is given to students attending college in Michigan.
- Gates Millennium Scholars Fund: This fund provides students from minority backgrounds with a scholarship that will cover the full cost of their tuition. This award is open to Native Americans, Pacific Islanders, and Alaskan Natives, and Hispanic students who plan to undertake a degree in a STEM field, education, or public health. Financial need and potential for academic excellence are strongly considered when making funding decisions.
- Minority Teachers of Illinois Scholarships: These scholarships are granted to minority students, including Native Americans, who plan to become teachers in Illinois school districts with minority student populations over 30%. In order to qualify, applicants must sign a Teaching Agreement/Promissory Note, agreeing that the applicant will teach in Illinois, and if they do not, the award becomes a loan and must be paid back with interest.
- The Society for American Archaeology: This society offers annual scholarships for Native Americans interested in cultural preservation and archaeology. Undergraduate scholarships can be up to $5,000, and graduate awards can be up to $10,000. Applicants must be pursuing a degree in archaeology, and be Native American, Alaska Native, or Native Hawaiian in order to be considered.
Many schools also offer Native American scholarships. A few that offer such programs include the University of Minnesota, University of North Dakota, George Washington University, and Southern Methodist University.
Tribal financial aid
Many Native American tribes also offer scholarships and grants for enrolled members attending college.
Check with your tribe or use these resources to see if you may be eligible:
- United South and Eastern Tribes
- White Mountain Apache Tribe
- Chickasaw Foundation
- Minnesota Chippewa
- Ste. Marie Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians
- Cherokee Nation
- Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes
How to prove eligibility for Native American scholarships and grants
For most Native American grants and scholarships, you’ll need to have at least a quarter Native American blood—and this must be documented. To begin this process, look to the Dawes Rolls Census documents to confirm your ancestry, as well as records from the Department of Indian Affairs.
Once you have the proper documentation in hand, you can file for a Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood, which will specify your exact degree of heritage. This, as well as enrollment in your family’s tribe, is required for many scholarships and grant programs.
The bottom line
If you’re a Native American hoping to attend college, your higher education doesn’t have to break the bank—as long as you can verify your ancestry.
So talk to your relatives, do some research, and work with Indian Affairs to process your Certificate of Indian Blood well before you begin applying for schools and financial aid.
Author: Aly Yale