Last updated: November 15, 2017

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.

 
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. 

AAAS Minority Science Writers Internship

Amount: $5,000

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: February 1, 2018

Any minority undergraduate student with an interest in science writing are eligible to apply. Preference is given to students enrolled in a journalism program. Includes opportunity for a 10-week internship at Science Magazine.

AAIA Adolph Van Pelt Scholarship

Amount: Varies

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: June 1, 2018

Native Americans who are enrolled members of their respective tribe from continental U.S. tribes or Alaska Native are eligible to apply for this scholarship. Candidates must be enrolled full-time at an undergraduate educational institution.

AAIA Allogan Slagle Memorial Scholarship

Amount: $1,500

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: June 1, 2018

Awards for undergraduate and graduates are given to members within their respective tribe from continental U.S. tribes or Alaska Native. Students must be enrolled full-time and be attending an accredited two- or four-year institution.

AAIA Owanah Anderson Scholarship

Amount: Varies

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: Varies

This scholarship is awarded to a Native American female undergraduate student in any field of study.

AAIA Undergrad Scholarship

Amount: $1,500

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: Varies

Eligible candidates for this award are high school seniors enrolled in an undergraduate degree for either two or four years. Candidates must be enrolled in their tribe.

ABA Diversity Scholarship

Amount: $2,500

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: Varies

Eligible candidates must have completed their first year at accredited university majoring in transportation, travel, tourism, or related industries. Must have a cumulative 3.0 GPA. Applicants will be considered based on a 500-word essay discussing their role in advancing the future of transportation and/or hospitality industry.

ALA Spectrum Scholarship

Amount: 5,000

Awards Available: 1

Deadline: March 1, 2018

Students pursuing a degree in literature and/or a career in the librarian workforce are encouraged to apply for this non-renewable scholarship. Must be a US or Canadian resident, and attend an ALA-accredited graduate program for library studies.

Allogan Slagle Memorial Scholarship

Amount: $1,500

Awards Available: 1

Deadline: December 15, 2017

Students must be enrolled or a descendant of a respective tribe, with no blood limitations. Must be a full-time student with a 2.5 GPA for consideration.

American Indian College Fund Full Circle Scholarship Program

Amount: Varies

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: May 31, 2018

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.

American Indian Fellowship in Business Scholarship

Amount: Varies

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: July 7, 2018

The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development sponsors this annual scholarship for American Indian students in their junior, senior, or graduate years of study majoring in Business. Must be enrolled full-time in an accredited post-secondary institution for consideration.

American Indian Nurse Scholarship Awards

Amount: $1,500

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: Varies

Undergraduate and graduate nursing students are eligible to apply for this scholarship. Candidates must be at least 1/4 American Indian and enrolled in a tribe, or able to prove direct tribal ancestry.

American Indian Services Scholarship

Amount: Varies

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: Varies

Students enrolled in their undergraduate course of study who meet the one-quarter enrolled member of a Federally Recognized Native American Tribe are eligible to apply. Must have a minimum GPA of 2.25 for consideration.

American Institute of Certified Public Accountants

Amount: Varies

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: March 1, 2018

The AICPA Scholarship awards financial assistance to outstanding minority students to encourage their pursuit of accounting as an undergraduate or graduate student. Must have a GPA of 3.0 or higher and demonstrate financial need.

ASES Google Scholarship

Amount: $10,000

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: March 31, 2018

Partnered with Google, the American Indian Science and Engineering Society awards scholarships to students pursuing a degree in engineering, computer science or related fields. Students must have a 3.0 GPA or higher, be enrolled full-time at an accredited university, and be a member of AISES. Strong leadership skills are preferred.

Bureau of Indian Education Higher Education Grant Program

Amount: Varies

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: June 1, 2018

Each year, the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) provide financial assistance to American Indian scholars seeking bachelor's degrees. Applicants must be a member of a recognized American Indian tribe, or be a direct descendant with at least one-fourth Indian blood.

Catching The Dream Program

Amount: Varies

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: Varies

This scholarship assists Native American high school students with their 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.

Cherokee Nation College Resource Scholarship

Amount: Varies

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: June 15, 2018

Candidates for this award must demonstrate their tribal citizenship in the Cherokee Nation. This scholarship is awarded to students who plan to attend an accredited U.S. institution.

Chickasaw Nation Scholarship Program

Amount: Varies

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: Varies

Chickasaw citizens who are pursuing higher education are eligible for these awards. Details for current scholarships and eligibility are listed on their website.

CIRI Foundation Fellowships

Amount: $250

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: Varies

Qualified candidates for this award are CIRI original members or direct lineal descendants. Students must have a GPA of 2.5 and a desire to promote literary, visual and performing arts of Alaska Natives.

CIRI Foundation General Scholarships

Amount: $5,000

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: June 1, 2018

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.

Coca-Cola First Generation Scholarship

Amount: $5,000

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: May 31, 2018

First generation students in their first year of academic study are eligible for this scholarship. Must have a 2.9 GPA and demonstrate financial need. Limited to students attending a tribal college.

Council of Energy Resource Tribes (CERT) Scholarships

Amount: Varies

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: February 15, 2018

The CERT Scholarship Program was created to meet the unforeseen needs of American Indian college students. The scholarship awards may be used for books, living expenses, and other non-financial aid needs.

Displaced Homemaker Scholarship

Amount: Varies

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: Varies

Applicants must be over the age of 35 and be an undergraduate student for consideration. Both male and female candidates are eligible to apply.

Elizabeth & Sherman Asche Scholarship

Amount: Varies

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: Varies

Candidates must be enrolled in their tribe and be in pursuit of a degree in a health or science field. The scholarship is a one-year-only award.

Ford Motor Company Tribal College Scholarship

Amount: $3,000

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: May 31, 2018

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

Frances Crawford Marvin American Indian Scholarship

Amount: $4,000

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: February 15, 2018

The American Indians Committee of the Daughters of the American Revolution award this scholarship to Native American students of any age, tribe, state, and major. Financial need and academic achievement will be strongly considered for this scholarship. Must have a 3.25 GPA or higher and be enrolled in a two- or four-year university.

Freedom From Religion Foundation Catherine Fahringer Memorial Award

Amount: Varies

Awards Available: 4

Deadline: June 17, 2018

This award is given to a high school senior who identifies as agnostic, atheist, secular or humanist. Candidates must be accepted to a two- or four-year college or university.

Gates Millennium Scholars

Amount: $750

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: Varies

Candidates for the Gates Millennium Scholarship are those of a minority who have a GPA of at least a 3.30. Financial need, community involvement, community service, and extracurricular activities will be considered.

Girls Who Illustrate Awesomeness Scholarship

Amount: $500

Awards Available: 2

Deadline: December 1, 2017

Currently enrolled or soon-to-be enrolled young women of color are eligible. Must have a GPA of 3.0 or higher to apply.

Holland & Knight Young Native Writers Essay Contest

Amount: $2,500

Awards Available: 5

Deadline: April 15, 2018

Eligible candidates are Native American high school students. Applications are asked to include an essay submission about the progress their tribal communities have made.

Hyatt Hotels Fund for Minority Lodging Management Students

Amount: $1,000

Awards Available: 20

Deadline: May 1, 2018

This scholarship is open to minority students studying hospitality management, who are attending an undergraduate institution in the next academic year.

IBM Tribal College Scholarship

Amount: $2,000

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: May 31, 2018

Students pursuing a degree in science, technology, engineering and math are eligible for this scholarship. Must have a 2.0 GPA, and demonstrate commitment to American Indian community.

Indian Health Services Health Professionals Scholarship Program

Amount: Varies

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: March 28, 2018

Students that are first or second degree descendants of a tribal member with a GPA of 2.0 or higher pursuing a degree in a health related field are encouraged to apply.

Interpublic Group Scholarship and Internship

Amount: $2,000

Awards Available: 2

Deadline: January 27, 2018

Students that are ethnically diverse and are current juniors in an undergraduate program, with a career interest in advertising or public relations are eligible. Permanent residents and U.S. citizens who live in NJ, NY, CT and PA are eligible.

Lannan Scholarship

Amount: $3,000

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: May 31, 2018

Native American students attending tribal colleges are eligible to apply for this scholarship. Students must be enrolled at an accredited tribal college or university, be registered within a state-recognized tribe and have a 3.0 GPA to be considered.

Microsoft Scholarship Program

Amount: Varies

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: January 26, 2018

The Microsoft Scholarship program encourages underrepresented groups to pursue STEM fields. Must be enrolled full-time in a bachelor's degree program pursuing computer science, engineering, or related degree program. Must maintain a 3.0 cumulative GPA.

Morgan Stanley Tribal Scholars Program

Amount: $5,000

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: May 31, 2018

Applicants must be a registered member of a state or federal recognized tribe or be a descendant of at least one enrolled family member. Scholarship candidates must also be enrolled full-time at an accredited university or college.

Moss Adams Foundation

Amount: $6,000

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: June 1, 2018

Minority students pursuing a degree in accounting, who are at least junior status in an undergraduate degree program are eligible for this award.

NACME STEM Minority Scholarships

Amount: Varies

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: Varies

Minority high school seniors accepted to a university's engineering program are eligible to apply for this scholarship. Based on specific grade requirements; check website for current eligibility.

Native American Seminary

Amount: Varies

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: Varies

Native American students pursuing a degree at a University Senate approved school are eligible to apply. Candidates must have a minimum 3-year membership in the United Methodist Church (UMC).

Osage Nation Higher Education Scholarship

Amount: Varies

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: May 11, 2018

Osage tribal members are eligible to apply for this award. Students can be pursuing an associate's, undergraduate, graduate or doctorate degree.

Presbyterian Student Opportunity Scholarship

Amount: $2,000

Awards Available: 80

Deadline: May 15, 2018

Students must be a member of the presbyterian church and demonstrate financial need. Minorities and American Indian descended students are preferred.

Smithsonian Institution James E. Webb Internship

Amount: $2,500

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: Varies

Students must be enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program in the field of business or public administration. This scholarship aims to support underrepresented minority groups in management of cultural and scientific organizations.

Smithsonian Native American Awards Program

Amount: $6,000

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: Varies

Applicants must be affiliated with a Native American tribe or community. Undergraduate or graduate students with an interest in learning more about career opportunities related to Native American resources are encouraged to apply.

Sovereign Nation Scholarship Fund

Amount: $2,000

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: May 31, 2018

This scholarship is for students attending non-tribal colleges. Must be a U.S. citizen, and a full-time student at an accredited university to apply. Must be registered with a state-recognized tribe or be a descendant of a tribal member.

The AIEF Undergraduate Scholarship Program

Amount: $2,000

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: April 4, 2018

Alaska Native or Native American descended students are eligible to apply for this scholarship. Students must to be pursuing an accredited two or four year institution or a vocational or technical school.

The Continental Society Daughters of Indian Wars

Amount: $5,000

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: June 15, 2018

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.

The Tyonek Native Corporation Scholarship and Grant Fund

Amount: Varies

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: Varies

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.

Truman D. Picard Scholarship

Amount: $2,500

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: January 18, 2018

Scholarships are awarded Native Americans or Alaska Natives of a federally recognized tribe. Students must be pursuing a career path in natural resources to be considered.

UMC Journey Toward Ordained Ministry

Amount: $4,000

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: Varies

Undergraduate and graduate level students of any minority are encouraged to apply. Students must be pursuing ordained ministry with a minimum two year membership with United Methodist Church (UMC) to be eligible.

United South & Eastern Tribes

Amount: Varies

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: April 20, 2018

Undergraduate scholarships are available to students of the 26 member tribes of the United South and Eastern Tribes.

Vine Deloria Jr. Memorial Scholarship

Amount: $1,000

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: May 31, 2018

The American Indian College Fund Scholarship program are awarded to students attending non-tribal universities. You must be pursuing a graduate degree with a 3.0 GPA. Financial need will be considered.

Wah-Tiah-Kah Scholarship

Amount: Varies

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: Varies

Students of Osage Indian blood are encouraged to apply for these awards. Scholarships are granted through the Osage Minerals Council for the study of petroleum related subjects.

Walmart Stores, Inc. Tribal College Scholarship

Amount: $2,750

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: May 31, 2018

Native American students attending tribal colleges and universities are eligible to apply for this scholarship. Must be a rising freshman with a cumulative GPA of 2.0 for consideration.

White Earth Scholarship Program

Amount: Varies

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: May 31, 2018

Students of good academic standing who are also an enrolled member of the MCT-White Earth Band are eligible to apply. Must be accepted to a higher education university or technical school.

WHOI Summer Student Fellowship Program

Amount: $10,000

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: February 15, 2018

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution awards fellowships to students who have completed their junior year of undergraduate study. Minority students are encouraged to apply, especially in the fields of science or engineering.

Xerox Technical Minority Scholarship

Amount: $5,000

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: September 30, 2017

Students must be pursuing a bachelor's, master's or PhD in an engineering discipline or technical science to apply. Minority students who are enrolled full-time in a four-year institution are eligible.

Zuni Tribal Scholarship

Amount: Varies

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: Varies

Students of the Zuni Tribe are eligible for this scholarship. Applicants must be accepted to or enrolled in a college institution.

Sources