Financial Aid for Native American Students
This page provides information about financial aid for Native American
students, compiled with the assistance of
Executive Director of the San Juan Pueblo Department of Education.
For a student to be eligible for many Native American scholarships,
such as BIA scholarships, the
student should be an enrolled member of a federally recognized tribe.
Otherwise funding will most likely be denied. A Certificate of Indian
Blood (CIB) card or document is generally accepted proof of membership
in a federally recognized tribe.
Native American students with at least 50% Indian blood who were born
in Canada are eligible for Title IV federal student aid under the
jurisdiction of the Jay Treaty of 1794, subsequent treaties, and US
Immigration Law. They are not required to obtain documentation from
the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). Because of the
limited number of Title IV aid applicants who are eligible under the
Jay Treaty, the citizenship question on the FAFSA (question #15-16)
does not have a separate response for such students. Such students should
report on the FAFSA that they are "eligible non-citizens" and
leave the question about the Alien Registration Number blank. They
will then be required to provide the financial aid administrator at
the school they attend with proof that they have 50% Native American
blood and were born in Canada. This can be demonstrated by any of
- A "band card" issued by the Band Council of a Canadian Reserve, or by
the Department of Indian Affairs in Ottawa.
- Birth or baptism records.
- An affidavit from a tribal official or other person knowledgeable about
the applicant's or recipient's family history.
- Identification from a recognized Native America provincial or
Sources of Aid
In addition to the resources listed below, the
FastWEB scholarship search lists 70 active award sources for Native American
students only, 11 award sources for Native American or Native Alaskan
students, and hundreds of awards for minority students.
- US Bureau of Indian Affairs
- Students who are more than 1/4 Indian blood should be eligible for
Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) scholarships.
BIA/OIEP funds may only be awarded to a person who is a
member of a federally recognized Native American tribe.
Native American students must apply for a BIA/OIEP Indian Education Grant
through their tribe, home agency, or area office of Indian Education.
Check with your
local BIA office for applications, eligibility and deadlines.
The phone number for the
California, Arizona, and Nevada BIA office is 1-702-887-3515.
The school's financial aid administrator must send a needs assessment
to the director of the Higher Education program of the tribe, so the
students have to file the FAFSA. Based
on this need analysis, the student may be awarded "Higher Ed" grants.
Awards typically range from $500 to $4,000 per year.
BIA/OIEP funds 26 institutions, including two it operates directly,
Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas, and
Southwest Indian Polytechnic Institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The other 24 institutions are tribally-controlled community colleges
represented by the American Indian Higher Education Consortium of
BIA/OIEP also provides funding to students through a contract with the
American Indian Graduate Center in Albuquerque. All fields of study are given
consideration with priority to Business, Engineering, Health, Law and
For general information about the Indian Higher Education Grants for
undergraduate and graduate students, call 1-202-208-4871, 1-505-881-4584, or
1-202-208-7163, fax 1-202-208-6334, or write to US
Bureau of Indian Affairs, Office of Education, 1849 C Street, NW,
Washington, DC 20240-0001.
The phone number for the BIA Office of Public Affairs is
1-202-219-3711 and their fax number is 1-202-501-1516.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs can also be reached at 1-800-332-9186.
See also the BIA Educational Native American Network (ENAN)
(or the Univ. of Kansas
description of ENAN)
and BIA Office of Indian Education Programs (OIEP),
especially the Branch of Postsecondary Education.
- American Indian College Fund
- The American Indian College Fund provides more scholarships to
Native American and Alaska Native students each year than any other
non-profit organization. The American Indian College Fund also
provides financial support to the nation's 33 accredited tribal
colleges and universities. For more information, call 1-800-776-FUND,
write to American Indian College Fund, 8333 Greenwood Boulevard,
Denver, CO 80221 or send email to
- Tribal Offices
- Another good source of financial aid is the student's tribe. Some
tribes have scholarships for their members, although the awards are
usually for very small amounts. Very often if a student does not
qualify for a BIA/OIEP grant, the tribe will award a "tribal"
Each tribe handles its own funding
differently, with different award amounts and deadlines, so it is best
to contact the tribe directly.
- Indian Health Service (IHS)
- The IHS web site provides information about the
IHS Scholarship Program
IHS Loan Repayment Program.
The IHSSP Indian Health Service Scholarship provides full tuition and
fees, books, uniforms, equipment, travel, insurance, national board
exams, travel for clinical training, and a stipend for students
majoring in health professions, engineering, and accounting. The
deadline is usually March 31.
For more information, call 1-301-443-6197, fax 1-301-443-6048,
(call 1-301-443-3396 or fax 1-301-443-4815 for the loan program),
or write to Indian Health Service, Scholarship Program, Twinbrook Metro
Plaza, Suite 100, 12300 Twinbrook Parkway, Rockville, MD 20852.
- Colleges and Universities
- Many schools offer free tuition, room and board to Native American
students, especially full-blooded Native American students. Be sure to
ask each school you are considering what incentives they offer to
encourage Native American students to enroll. There may also be
special awards for students minoring in Native American studies.
For example, Native American students who attend any state school in
Montana will qualify for a fee waiver if they are Montana residents,
at least 1/4 Indian blood quantum, and have financial need. The fee
waiver includes tuition and a $30 administrative fee, but not
approximately $235 in other fees.
- Daughters of the American Revolution American Indian Scholarship Fund
- The Daughters of the American Revolution American Indian
Scholarship Fund typically awards $500
scholarships to Native American students all across the country.
Deadlines are August 1 for the fall and November 1 for the spring.
For more information, send a self-addressed stamped envelope to
Ms. Mary Barnett, Rt. 3, Box 530, Cynthiana, KY 41031.
Other Information Resources
Students should be particularly encouraged to use the extremely detailed
Native America site listed below.
- All Nations AMP
- The goal of the All Nations Alliance for Minority Participation
(AMP) in Science, Engineering, and Mathematics is to double the number
of Native Americans graduating with Bachelor degrees in
science, mathematics, engineering, and technology by the year 1999.
Related web sites include
Arizona State University HyperAMP and HyperAid,
New Mexico AMP,
Puerto Rico AMP,
and Texas AMP.
- American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC)
- American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES)
- AISES has long been the frontrunner in Native American education
and issues. Other AISES web pages include the
Scholarship Programs page
and the AISES
Circle of Life Essay Program for high school students.
For information about the Polingaysi Qoyawayma Scholarship (for
graduate students who are going on to teach in math or science),
call 1-303-492-8658 or write to AISES, 1630 30th Street, Suite 301,
Boulder, CO 80301-1014.
- Humboldt State University
- A list of awards for Native Americans compiled by Humboldt State
See also the INRSEP page.
- Indian Resource Development (IRD)
- New Mexico State University's IRD publishes a booklet entitled
Sources of Financial Aid Available to American Indian
Students. The booklet is free to New Mexico students and $4 for
students from other states.
IRD also administers a USDA Agricultural Statistics scholarship for
Native American students majoring in agriculture, mathematics,
computer science, or statistics.
For more information, call 1-505-646-1347, fax 1-505-646-7740, write
to Indian Resource Development, Box 30001, Department 3IRD, New Mexico
State University, Las Cruces, NM 88003, or send email to
- Native America
- This site contains a lot of extremely useful information about
Native Americans. It is packed with information regarding the great
Indian Nations, pow-wow dates, and education. It also includes a page on
Using the Internet
to Find Out About Colleges, Universities, and Financial Aid.
- Native American Schools and Financial Aid
- A long list of links to Native American schools, financial aid,
and related topics.