Scholarships 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.
Scholarships are a type of financial aid that does not need to be repaid. They are usually granted on the basis of a student’s merit and/or demographic qualities of the student, such as race, ethnicity or religion. Scholarships are offered by almost any entity, from schools to corporations to non-profits.
American Indian Education Fund Scholarships
Offers over 200 scholarships each year to both undergraduate and graduate students. Each scholarship is worth up to $2,000 which is directly paid to the award winner’s school.
More info: nativepartnership.org/site/PageServer?pagename=aief_progs_sf_scholarshipfund
American Indian Services Scholarships
Offers thousands of scholarships to enrolled college students who are at least one-quarter of a federally recognized Native American tribe, complete the FAFSA and maintain at least a 2.25 GPA.
More info: americanindianservices.org/students/ais-scholarship/
Association on American Indian Affairs Scholarships
Most scholarships are for undergraduate and graduate students from federally recognized tribes who are attending an accredited institution and working toward an associate’s degree or higher. Applicants must have at least a 2.5 (on a 4.0 scale) GPA.
More info: www.indian-affairs.org/scholarships.html
Continental Society Daughters of Indian Wars, Inc.’s National American Scholarship
Every year, a $5,000 renewable scholarship is awarded to those who are an enrolled tribal member, maintain a 3.0 GPA and plan to work in a field of education or social service.
More info: csdiw.org/scholarships/
Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) American Indian Scholarship
The DAR American Indian Scholarship is available to any Native American student who is attending any post-secondary school, although undergraduate students are given preference. If awarded the scholarship, students can expect a one-time payment of $4,000.
More info: https://www.dar.org/national-society/scholarships/american-indian
Full Circle Scholarship Program
Administered by American Indian College Fund, this scholarship program offers merit and need-based scholarships to undergraduate students who are attending either a tribal or non-tribal college. All applicants must have at least a 2.0 GPA.
More info: http://collegefund.org/student-resources/scholarships/scholarship-programs
Gates Millennium Scholars Program
Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the program offers numerous scholarships to minority students, including Native Americans, who have financial need and are pursuing fields of study where minorities are underrepresented.
More info: gmsp.org
Indian Health Service (HIS) Scholarship Program
Native American and Alaskan Natives who are studying to work in a health profession are eligible for this scholarship. Scholarships are awarded based on academic performance, the application essay and faculty/employer evaluations.
More info: ihs.gov/scholarship/index.cfm
Truman D. Picard Scholarship
The Intertribal Timber Council sponsors and administers this scholarship which offers multiple $2,500 awards to graduating high school seniors, current college students and those about to enter graduate school. Besides proving membership in a federally recognized American Indian tribe or as an Alaska Native, the student must also be pursuing an education in natural resources area of study.
More info: itcnet.org/about_us/scholarships.html
Wells Fargo American Indian Scholarship
Administered by the American Indian Graduate Center and funded by Wells Fargo, this scholarship is for federally recognized American Indian tribe or Alaskan Native students who will study in banking or a related field, demonstrate financial need and maintain a 3.00 GPA on a 4.00 scale.
More info: aigcs.org/scholarships/undergraduate-scholarships
Grants for Native American Students
Grants are similar to scholarships in that they do not need to be repaid. However, unlike scholarships, they are usually granted on the basis of the student’s financial need. They are offered by federal or state governments and the schools themselves.
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG)
The FSEOG is only available only to undergraduate students. Even though it is a federal grant, it is directly administered by the schools and ranges from between $100 and $4,000. For students with exceptional financial need, the exact amount depends on the availability of FSEOG funds at the student’s school of attendance.
More info: studentaid.ed.gov/sa/types/grants-scholarships/fseog
Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants
This is a federal grant program for students who would normally be eligible for a Pell Grant, but don’t meet the Expected Family Contribution requirement and have a parent or guardian who was a member of the US Armed Forces and died in the line of duty in Iraq or Afghanistan after September 11, 2001. The amount awarded is the same as the Pell Grant, but cannot exceed the actual cost of attendance.
More info: studentaid.ed.gov/sa/types/grants-scholarships/iraq-afghanistan-service
The Pell Grant is probably the most well-known and commonly offered federal grant. For the 2019-2020 school year, the maximum Pell Grant award is $6,195, although the exact amount will primarily depend on the student’s financial need.
More info: studentaid.gov/understand-aid/types/grants/pell
Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant
The federal TEACH Grant provides up to $4,000 to students who choose an area of study that allows them to enter a teaching position upon graduation. To take advantage of this grant, students must enroll in a TEACH Grant eligible academic program.
More info: studentaid.gov/understand-aid/types/grants/teach
The Bureau of Indian Education Higher Education Grant Program
Students who are at least one-quarter degree of Indian blood from an American Indian tribe, accepted into an accredited institution of higher learning and have demonstrable financial need are eligible for this grant. The grant is administered by the education officer of the applicant’s tribe.
More info: www.bie.edu/topic-page/grants
Native American Fellowships
Fellowships are very similar to scholarships in that a student receives financial support for their academic studies. They are also often awarded on a merit basis. However, unlike scholarships, there is generally a service or work component, requiring the student to spend a certain period of time working or volunteering in a particular field of study or geographical area. Finally, many fellowships are geared toward graduate students.
AIGC Fellowship Program
The American Indian Graduate Center Fellowship Program provides between $1,000 and $5,000 to graduate students who are working toward a degree. Students must be of at least one-quarter degree of a federally recognized Native American Indian tribe or Alaska Native group and demonstrate financial need.
More info: aigcs.org/scholarships-fellowships/graduate-students/
Frances C. Allen Fellowship for Women of American Indian Heritage
The Newberry is an independent research library in Chicago. It offers this fellowship to women of Native American Indian heritage who are studying in any field related to Newberry’s collections.
More info: newberry.org/darcy-mcnickle-center-fellowships
Native American Awards Program – Community Scholars
This fellowship program administered by the Smithsonian Institution’s Office of Fellowships and Internships awards a fully funded research project at the Smithsonian Institution that may last up to 21 days. Applicants must be affiliated with a Native American Indian tribe or group and express an interest in pursuing a project relating to Native American Indian resources.
More info: smithsonianofi.com/fellowship-opportunities/native-american-community-scholars-awards
Native American Residency Fellowship at the Vermont Studio Center
This fellowship is offered by the Harpo Foundation and awards a $500 travel stipend and one-month residency at the Vermont Studio Center. This fellowship is awarded based on artistic ability, including connecting the artist’s indigenous world and society.
More info: harpofoundation.org/apply/native-american-felowship
Native Graduate Health Fellowship
Offered by the National Congress for American Indians, this fellowship provides a monetary award to help students pay for their graduate studies and the opportunity for professional development by promoting tribal health policy. Students must be a member of a Native American Indian tribe or Alaska Native group and working toward graduate studies in a health-related field.
More info: www.ncai.org/get-involved/internships-fellowships/native-graduate-health-fellowship