Native American Scholarships and Grants

Finding the funds to attend college can be a difficult task for students all over the country. With the high cost of tuition, dorm fees, books and other associated expenses; many students are often forced to borrow a variety of different student loans before they graduate. Which means, most students are already in debt before they can secure their first professional job. To avoid these and other financial pitfalls, students can benefit from financial aid through obtaining scholarships and grants.

Obtaining Financial Aid – What To Do First?

When searching for scholarship and grants, it is essential for the student to create an effective action plan. This plan can assist the student with obtaining the financial aid they need to complete their studies. Before beginning the application process, the best thing a student can do is extensive research to find out, specifically, all the programs that they qualify for. This can be done through making an appointment with a high school or college counselor and asking any questions you might have.

Talk to Guidance Counselors

One of the first steps in a scholarship and grant research plan is talking with the student’s guidance counselors. While there are thousands of scholarships and grants available to students in both small and large target groups, the guidance counselor can assist their students in identifying which scholarships will fit their specific needs. They can also help the student with calculating the amount needed for a specific college or university.

Eligibility

For Native American students, if you are graduating from high school, or considering going back to school after taking some time off, there are plenty of Native American Scholarships and Grants existing today that you can benefit from when you are ready to apply for college. However, to obtain financial aid you must meet eligibility requirements, in which the terms of eligibility differ for every program. They are different opportunities for different individuals who are applying to school, so its best to find out what these are, in order to ensure you acquire the funding you need.

In order to be eligible for a Native American scholarship (like BIA), students must be enrolled members of a tribe that is federally recognized in the US. Something such as a certificate of Indian blood is usually acceptable proof in to a recognized tribe. Those who have at least 50% Native American blood, and who were born in Canada, are also eligible for certain scholarship opportunities, subsequent to Immigration law. Some methods of proving eligibility are: birth certificates, band card, an affidavit from a tribal officer, or an ID card from a Native American tribal community, are all forms of valid proof.

Identifying Specific Scholarships and Grants

By reviewing availability in advance, the student can narrow their search to several categories or groups that they will be eligible for. For instance, there are scholarships that are targeted towards the Native American minority specifically. These scholarships are designed to help these students with the cost of tuition, dorm cost and other fees. Once the student has identified specific categories, they can also look for grants and scholarships that will assist students in a specific field of study.

For example, some Native American scholarships are ear marked for students who want to earn a degree in Computer Science or Information Technology. Therefore, when the student applies they may receive the finances to cover 2 to 4 years of college. In most cases, these awards range from hundreds to thousands of dollars. The amount awarded, however, is often based on the student and the institution that’s providing the funding. In either case, the student may need more than one scholarship award to complete their college degree.

Sources of Financial Aid for Native Americans

For those seeking out Native American Scholarships and Grants, there are many sources of financial aid when applying for different scholarships and grants. Some of these include:

  • The Daughters of The American Revolution
  • The US Bureau of Indian Affairs
  • The American Indian College Fund

The Daughters of The American Revolution (DAR)

This organization offers many different scholarships, including nursing school scholarships and others regarding native american men and women pursuing careers in political science, history, government, medical and economic fields. The eligibility requirements for most are merit-based in which they expect the applicant to have a minimum GPA of 3.75. They award up to $20,000 in funding per individual, although most range between $2,000 to $5,000 in funding. More information can be found on the DAR website.

The US Bureau of Indian Affairs

The US Bureau of Indian Affairs was established in 1824 and since then has worked to improve the quality of life for American Indians and Alaska Natives, and provides education services to around 42,000 students. Within their network of services is the the Bureau of indian education (BIE), which offers scholarships and grants for Native American Students who are in need of college funding. More information regarding the financial aid programs they offer can be found on the BIE website.

The American Indian College Fund

Being one of the highest rated and largest American Indian scholarship organizations, The American Indian College Fund is one of the best resources for scholarships and grants for native american students. They supply funding to the 34 accredited tribal colleges and universities in the US and distributed over $5 billion in scholarships and financial aid related programs in 2011-2012 alone. The eligibility requirements as well as more information can be located on their website.

Additional Scholarship Funding

If you are a Native American in need of college funding, these aren’t the only places to look.
For example, there are over several colleges and universities that have their own program options and scholarships available to Native Americans as well. Locating which university scholarship you are eligible for can be done using a college scholarship directory online, or by meeting with a guidance counselor at a local college or high school campus. Other sources that offer scholarships for American Indians are listed below.

  • Tribal Offices
  • Indian Health Service
  • Universities & Colleges
  • Government Programs

How To Apply

Depending on whether it is a government funded, or privately funded scholarship or grant, application processes will differ. If it is a government grant, such as the Pell Grant and the FSEOG Grant, students can generally find information for applying at the FAFSA website, the Fin Aid site, or other government scholarship sites. If it is a privately funded scholarship or grant, there will be several listings and information pertaining to the grant. That is, which students are eligible to apply, information on how to apply, and how the students are going to be selected for the funding that is available.

There are many scholarships available to Native American students. Proof of Native American status, is going to be the most important indicating factor as to whether or not you qualify for certain forms of funding. So, taking the time to visit the right sites, contacting private scholarship participants, and doing as much research as possible before you try to apply for scholarships or grants, are all things that should be done to ensure you do qualify, and to ensure you do have a chance of receiving the funds that you are applying for as a Native American student.

Deadlines

Once a student chooses the Native American Scholarships that applies to their specific situation, they should review the established deadlines. For instance, the Native American Scholarship Fund, Inc. offers a variety of different awards and award-amounts to Alaskan Natives and American Indians. These students are eligible for these awards if they are majoring in business, engineering, math, computer science or science.

Therefore, for those who are interested in applying for an award, they will have to adhere to the deadlines. The deadlines for these awards are on the March 15th, April 15th and September 15th. If the student is not eligible for the Native American Scholarship Fund Inc., they may want to review the eligibility requirements and deadlines for the Native American Financial Aid Grants. The application deadlines for these awards are on April 15th. Not meeting deadlines, can significantly reduce your chance of receiving your award.

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