Native American Grants
There are many grants and scholarships available for Native Americans who wish to attend a university. Some are offered by private organizations, some by specific tribes, and still others are available on the state and federal level.
Most are intended for students who can show financial need.
Some also require a minimum grade point average be maintained, and others are restricted to certain courses of study. With the wide range available, students should have little difficulty finding Native American grants for college.
Grants and scholarships should not be confused with the student loan program. Student loans have to be repaid, except in those cases where student can obtain forgiveness by committing to work in an underserved area of certain states in fields such as teaching or nursing.
Several states offer such programs, but they are quite restrictive. Grants and scholarships, on the other hand, never have to be repaid, and are truly free money for college.
GRANTS FROM PRIVATE ORGANIZATIONS
Many private non-profit organizations offer Native American grants for college. Most of them require that the student make application directly to the organization providing the grant. These are too numerous to provide a complete list here, but some typical examples are shown below.
The Daughters of the American Revolution offers several grants and scholarships for both male and female Native Americans who wish to attend college. Request information in writing, and enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope for a reply. Here are two of the programs the DAR offers:
- The American Indian Scholarship is open to Native Americans regardless of age, tribe, or state of residency. It is available for technical school, college, and university students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels (although undergraduates are given preference) and is based on financial need and academic record. This is a one-time grant of $1,000. Students must have at least a 2.75 grade point average and submit proof of American Indian blood.
- The Frances Crawford Marvin American Indian Scholarship is designated for students enrolled full time at either a 2 or 4 year university or college. Applicants must provide proof of Native American blood and a grade point average of at least 3.0 as well as financial need. The amount of the award depends on the returns provided by the endowment and varies.
The Association on American Indian Affairs offers the Allogan Slagle Scholarship specifically for Native American students who are not members of one of the federally recognized tribes.
The American Indian Graduate Center co-ordinates grants with a number of private corporations. Many of these grants are designated for graduate students, but there are also some available for undergraduates.
The American Indian Science and Engineering Society has numerous grant and scholarship opportunities for Native American students majoring in science, mathematics, computer science, or engineering. Awards vary, but are normally between $1,000 and $4,000. Sample programs are listed below, which reflect only a few of the awards available.
- The A. T. Anderson Scholarship Program provides $1,000 for undergraduate Native American students majoring in engineering, computer science, mathematics, or science.
- The AISES Environmental Protection Agency Scholarship awards 27 Native American undergraduate students with $4,000 each. Students must be majoring in medicine, chemistry or chemical engineering, biology, or business administration.
- AISES also administers the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Foundation Scholarship, which is for Native American undergraduate students. These awards, which are for $2,500, require a minimum grade point average of 2.0 and a major of engineering, science, health administration, education, or business. In addition, applicants must be a resident of Arizona, California (San Bernardino County only), Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, or Washington. Applicants must be at least one-quarter Native American blood or a member of a federally recognized tribe.
The American Anthropological Society offers funding for Native Americans and other minority students who need financial support to complete graduate school and finish dissertations.
The American Chemical Society offers several grants and scholarships for minority students, including Native Americans, who are undergraduates in chemistry or related fields.
American Baptist Financial Aid Program Native American Grants range from $1,000 to $2,000 annually, and are awarded to both undergraduate and graduate Baptist Native American students.
The Presbyterian Church USA headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky, offers funding for Native American students for their first year of college. The award is $1,500 and there are no restrictions on fields of study.
The Tyonek Native Corporation Scholarship and Grant Fund provides $1,000 to $1,500 yearly to Alaska Natives for both undergraduate and graduate students to attend any university in the country.
The Adolph Van Pelt Foundation offers Native American grants of $500 to $1,500 for undergraduate students who have economic need.
The Continental Society Daughters of Indian Wars, based in Locust Grove, Oklahoma, offers a $1,000 award each year to a Native American student majoring in social work, education, or social service. The award is open to college juniors and seniors taking at least 8 credit hours and with a minimum grade point average of 3.0. Students should have plans to work on a reservation and have financial need.
GRANTS AVAILABLE FROM NATIVE AMERICAN TRIBES
Almost every tribe has grants available for tribal members who wish to attend an institute of higher education. Some of these are listed below.
- Backfeet Nation Higher Education Grant provides $3,500 annually to 140 undergraduate students.
- Menominee Indian Tribe Adult Vocational Training Program offers $100 to $2,200 for up to 70 students at technical colleges.
- Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin Higher Education Grant provides $100 to $1,100 annually for up to 136 undergraduate students.
- Yakima Nation Tribal Scholarship offers $1,000 to undergraduate students who have at least a 2.0 grade point average.
- Hopi Tribe Priority Scholarships are intended for college junior, senior, and graduate students majoring in areas considered critical for the Hopi Tribe in the hope that graduates will apply their educations to the further the interests of the tribe. Qualifying fields are business, engineering, law, education, medicine or health, and natural resources.
- The Northern Arapaho Tribal Scholarship is for residents of Wyoming who can prove merit, financial need, and tribal membership.
- Shoshone Tribal Scholarships are intended for Wyoming residents who can prove financial need and tribal membership.
UNIVERSITY GRANTS FOR NATIVE AMERICANS
Some grants are available only for Native American students attending a specific college. Applications for these grants are normally accepted through the university’s financial aid office. Examples of typical grants are listed below.
- The Anne Trevarthen Memorial Scholarship is for high school seniors who will attend the College of William and Mary in Virginia. Applicants do not have to submit proof of Native American blood but do have to show some personal connection to Native American culture and evidence a commitment to diversity and overcoming differences between groups. Preference is given to those who have knowledge or involvement with one of the Tribes recognized by the state of Virginia. The amount of the award varies, based on the endowment returns.
- The Arizona State University Library Training Fellowship awards $8,000 to 2 Native American graduate students majoring in library science.
- Huron College in South Dakota offers the Kathleen Robbie Memorial Scholarship for Native American undergraduate students in all majors.
- The University of Kentucky offers a paid summer undergraduate research program for electrical and computer engineering Native American students. While not a grant, the program pays $3,200 for an eight week commitment, and all food and housing costs are paid, along with a travel stipend.
- The University of Alaska at Anchorage administers the Edward and Anna Range Schmidt Charitable Trust. The grant is designed to offer aid to financially needy students studying environmental science. Members of Native Alaskan tribes have preference.
- Montana State University has several programs available for Native Americans. Two of these are the Montana Indian Fee Waiver, which offers tuition grants to Montana residents who can prove at least one-quarter Native American blood, and the Native American Non-Resident Tribal Homelands Scholarship for students who have native Montana tribal affiliation. Awards vary but can be up to $10,000. Both programs are based on financial need.
STATE GRANTS AVAILABLE FOR NATIVE AMERICAN STUDENTS
Many, but not all, states have grants tailored for Native American college students. However, if the state does not offer a program specifically for Native Americans, students may still be covered under one of the programs encompassing minority students. What follows is by no means a complete list of grants available, but is instead a sampling of the programs that can be found.
- ALABAMA: The Alabama Indian Affairs Commission Scholarship is available to applicants who are members of any of the 7 federally recognized tribes in Alabama. There are no restrictions on majors.
- ILLINOIS: Illinois offers the Minority Teachers of Illinois Scholarship Program for Native American and other minority students who are majoring in education. Teaching students for preschool through grade 12 with at least a 2.5 grade point average can receive up to $5,000 per year if they will agree to teach within the state for a set period of time.
- KANSAS: The Kansas Ethnic Minority Scholarship is available for minority students, including Native Americans, who can demonstrate financial need and academic achievement. The program is open to undergraduates pursuing any field of study, and offers up to $1,800 per academic year.
- NORTH DAKOTA: The state offers grants and scholarships to approximately 100 students annually, with awards of up $2,000 per academic year based on financial need and merit. Applicants must be residents of the state and able to prove membership in a recognized tribe. Students must maintain at least a 2.0 grade point average.
- SOUTH DAKOTA: The Ardell Bjugstad Scholarship, administered by the South Dakota Board of Regents, is for Native American students majoring in natural resources management or agriculture.
- WASHINGTON: Washington State offers the American Indian Endowed Scholarships for Native American residents at either the undergraduate or graduate level who are full time students. There are no restrictions on the field of study. Award amounts range from $500 to $2,000.
FEDERAL GRANTS AVAILABLE FOR COLLEGE STUDENTS
Most federal grants for Native American college students are administered by the Bureau of Indian Affairs through Tribal leaders. Here are some, however, that might be of interest, even though they are available to all students.
- PELL GRANT: This is the backbone of the federal grant program for college students. It is intended for students with the greatest financial need, and household income therefore must be below $20,000 annually. Grants can be as much as $4,000 for a full time student and $2,000 for a part time student. Pell Grants can be renewed each year.
- FSEOG (FEDERAL SUPPLEMENTAL EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITY GRANT: Designed for students who receive the Pell Grant and can demonstrate the need for additional financial aid, the FSEOG provides awards from $100 to $4,000 per year.
The federal government also has two grant programs for students who not only receive a Pell Grant and have financial need but also follow selected courses of study.
- ACADEMIC COMPETITIVENESS GRANT: This grant is for the freshman and sophomore years of college. Students must maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.0 and follow a course of study defined as “rigorous”. In general, such areas will include 3 years of mathematics, with 2 years beyond Algebra I; 3 years of science; 3 years of social science; 4 years of English, and 1 year of foreign languages. These grants are for a maximum of $750 for freshmen and $1,300 for sophomores.
- NATIONAL SMART GRANT: Also called the National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent, this grant is designed for the junior and senior years of college. Only select majors qualify, such as science, mathematics, engineering, technology, and critical foreign languages. Students must have received a Pell Grant, and must maintain at least a 3.0 grade point average. SMART Grants can be for as much as $4,000 per academic year.
The total of all federal grants cannot exceed the actual cost of attendance.
MISCELLANEOUS PROGRAMS OF INTEREST
There are several programs that might be of interest for those seeking to finance a college education. For example, many states will forgive student loans for teachers or nurses who are willing to work in an underserved area for a set period of time.
One such program is offered by the Nebraska Department of Education. Students who wish to teach at a Tribal school in Nebraska normally receive automatic approval for the program.
The Indian Health Service Scholarship Program provides two different plans for Native American students interested in the health profession. Applicants must prove their Native American blood, but requirements are not as stringent as many programs.
- The Health Professions Preparatory Scholarship Program is designed for students who need to enroll in certain courses in order to gain admission to health professional schools for pursuit of careers in nursing, pharmacy, or others. Courses covered may be compensatory (needed to improve math, science, or other basic skills) or preparatory (studies that must be taken for admission to a health professions program). The award covers 10 months per academic year for up to 2 years (if full time) or 4 years (if part time) and is renewable, although students must re-apply every year.
- The Pre-Graduate Scholarship Program is for Native American students to pursue pre-med or pre-dentistry programs (or others as designated as areas of shortage for Indian health programs). The award covers 10 months per academic year, and although it must be renewed each year, students can receive funding for up to 4 years if full time, or 8 years if part time.
The Association on American Indian Affairs offers emergency aid scholarships when funds are available. These awards range between $100 and $400 and are issued for true emergency situations such as to keep utilities connected or avoid eviction. If you are approved, it normally takes around two weeks to receive the funds.
HOW TO APPLY FOR NATIVE AMERICAN GRANTS
Most state and federal grants require students to complete the Free Application for Student Aid, also called the FAFSA. This can be done at most universities’ financial aid offices or online.
A student will need to determine whether to base his answers on the student’s own information or his parents’ information. As a rule, if students are married, over 22 years of age, a member of the armed forces, or a veteran, the questions will apply to the student. Information requested will include questions based on the prior year’s income tax return, which schools should receive financial aid reports, and the number of college students in the household.
Applications should be made as early in the year as possible. Federal grant deadlines are normally June 30, but many states’ deadlines are earlier. Also, funds can be depleted if students wait too long to apply.
Applications for grants and scholarships based on Tribal affiliation are normally made directly through Tribal offices. Those administered by corporations or private organizations usually require applicants to apply directly to their offices.