Scholarships for Native American Students

Last updated: March 06, 2019

For centuries, the United States Government has been working towards creating equal opportunities for Native Americans. With education in particular, government agencies have been navigating just how much support to provide citizens whose family tree spans generations in North America, while still allowing them to uphold their own individual rights and traditions.

The Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) exists today as a testament to this work. Today there are 183 Indian-education run schools in the U.S., providing educational opportunities for native people with the mission of providing educational opportunities that allow economic and cultural well-being for Indian tribes and Alaska Native villages.

While the BIE does create fantastic opportunities for students who wish to advance their education in accordance with this mission, endless educational opportunities exist for native people to receive support towards the pursuit of higher education in a non-traditional setting. Use our interactive guide below to sort through resources and over 60 Native American scholarships available for the 2017-2018 academic year.

Educational Milestones for Native Americans

Educational Milestones for Native American Students in the U.S.
“1.5 percent of the U.S. population, around 4.5 million individuals, self-identifies as American Indian or Alaska Native descent. Of these, an estimated 1.9 million are eligible for federal services.”
U.S. Census Bureau

Federal aid is only one of the many ways to receive support towards your pursuit of a degree. Privately funded scholarships offer a substantial opportunity to receive need-based support that honors your native descent. But financial support is not the only resource available for Native American students. The American Indian College Fund and other organizations also provide support in the form of professional development, academic support, and curated toolkits aimed to set you up for success.

Resources for Native American Students

Trace Indian Ancestry

The nation’s largest minority education organization provides scholarship opportunities by raising money to support students of color to attend, thrive and graduate from college to become better leaders of their communities.

Federal Student Aid

The U.S. Department of Education provides information and tips for how to qualify for aid and prepare for college.

Native Scholars 101

From the American Indian College Fund, Student Success Services curated this toolkit filled with free resources for Native scholars.

Professional Development

The American Indian College Fund offers professional development tips from resume building, interviewing tips, and professional etiquette.

 
 

How to Pay for College

1

Scholarships

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

 
2

Grants

Grants don’t need to be paid back and are based on your financial circumstances. They are usually funded by the federal government, your state or college.

 
3

Fellowships

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

 
4

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 options—fill out the free application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to see if you qualify for financial aid. If you need help, use our interactive guide to learn how to answer every question.

 
5

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

Scholarship Application Preparation

Not all scholarships are based off of your GPA, but most need to verify your high school education to qualify. Try to get certified copies of your transcript early, so you have plenty of time to meet the deadline.
Although there are scholarship opportunities that aren’t merit-based, it’s valuable to take the SAT or ACT standardized tests in case it’s a scholarship qualification.
Your scholarship essay is what will bring attention to your application out of the pool of applicants. That’s why it’s important to craft a stand out piece that attests to your experience, adheres to the scholarship guidelines and most importantly, highlights your true personality.
Letters of recommendation are a true judgement of your character—something that can’t be revealed through your test scores or transcript. Reach out to former teachers, counselors or bosses, so that they can speak to your qualifications. You may also want to provide them with a resume that outlines your achievements and goals as well.
 

Native American Scholarships

Instructions: Click through the dropdowns below to select if you're Native American or Alaska Native, then sort by your field of study, award amount and if you qualify for need-based aid.

United South & Eastern Tribes

Amount: Varies

Deadline: April 30, 2019

Students of the 26 member tribes of the United South and Eastern Tribes are eligible for undergraduate scholarships.

Moss Adams Foundation

Amount: $1,000

Deadline: April 30, 2019

The Moss Adams Foundation is available to minority women, or women returning to school to earn a bachelor's degree in accounting. Must demonstrate clear evidence persistence towards personal and professional goals.

Presbyterian Student Opportunity Scholarship

Amount: $2,000

Deadline: May 15, 2019

The Presbyterian Church provides this yearly need-based opportunity for sophomores, juniors and seniors who are full time, first degree students attending accredited institutions in the U.S. Preference extends to racial ethnic students. Must be a member of the Presbyterian Church, and have completed their first year of study. Must have a 2.5 GPA or higher, and demonstrate financial need for consideration.

Ford Motor Company Tribal College Scholarship

Amount: $3,000

Deadline: May 31, 2019

Awards are given to those enrolled in an accredited tribal college or university. Candidates must be members of a state or federally recognized tribe or a descendant of at least one parent or grandparent who is enrolled as a tribe member.

American Indian College Fund Scholarship Program

Amount: Varies

Deadline: May 31, 2019

Students attending non-tribal public or private universities in the U.S. are encouraged to apply for this need-based scholarship. Applicants must be a member of a recognized tribe or descendant of an enrolled tribal member and have a 2.0 GPA or higher.

CIRI Foundation General Scholarships

Amount: $5,000

Deadline: June 1, 2019

To be eligible, candidates must be a CIRI original enrollee or direct lineal descendant. A high school diploma or GED is required with current enrollment in an undergraduate or graduate degree program. Part-time and full-time students are eligible.

The Continental Society Daughters of Indian Wars

Amount: $5,000

Deadline: June 15, 2019

This scholarship is for enrolled tribal members that plan to work with a tribe or nation in the field of Education or Social Service. Must maintain a 3.0 GPA. Financial need will be considered.

American Indian Law School Scholarship

Amount: Varies

Deadline: March 15, 2021

The American Indian College Fund will award the second American Indian Law School Scholarship to a first-year student in the 2021-22 Harvard Law School. The scholarship covers all costs of attendance, including tuition for the three-year course of study at Harvard Law School, for one Native student. Th eligible applicants must be an American Indian or Alaska Native who are enrolled tribal members, or who are lineal descendants of an enrolled parent or grandparent.

CIRI Foundation Fellowships

Amount: $250

Deadline: December 1, 2019

Qualified candidates are CIRI original enrollees or direct lineal descendants. Students must have a GPA of 2.5 or higher with a desire to perform and transmit the literary, visual and performing arts of Alaska Natives.

Cherokee Nation College Resource Scholarship

Amount: Varies

Deadline: June 15, 2019

Candidates must demonstrate tribal citizenship in the Cherokee Nation. The scholarship is awarded to those who plan to attend or are attending an accredited U.S. institution.

Catching The Dream Program

Amount: Varies

Deadline: September 15, 2019

The scholarship assists Native American high school students with their college academic pursuits. All tribes and regions are welcome to apply. Preference is given to those who plan to study engineering, math, science, business, computers and education.

American Indian Nurse Scholarship Awards

Amount: $1,500

Deadline: June 1, 2019

Candidates must be at least 1/4 American Indian and enrolled in a tribe, or able to prove direct tribal ancestry. Candidates must be enrolled an undergraduate or graduate nursing program are eligible.

The Tyonek Native Corporation Scholarship and Grant Fund

Amount: Varies

Deadline: January 1, 2020

The Tebughna Foundation supports the education of members and/or descendants of the Tyonek Tribe. Students must have graduated high school and be enrolled in an undergraduate degree program. Must maintain a GPA of 2.0 or higher.

Ohio News Media Association Minority Scholarship

Amount: $1,500

Deadline: April 19, 2019

The Ohio News Media Association offers a minority scholarship that is open to an African American, Hispanic, Asian American, or American Indian student. Applicant must be a graduating senior at an Ohio high school planning to pursue a degree in journalism with a minimum GPA of 2.5