Scholarships for Native Americans—Let Your Roots Lead You to Success
Many Native American students are underprivileged and receive insufficient education during childhood, which makes it hard for them to get accepted into colleges. To make matters worse, most Native American households operate in survival mode with an annual income of less than $5,000. That barely leaves them enough to afford a decent degree.
Scholarships for Native Americans aim to help the oppressed students from this community find a solid footing in mainstream education. If you are a student with tribal ancestry, this article will help you make the most of the available scholarship or grant options in the U.S.
From dealing with classroom prejudice to enduring racial insensitivity, Native American students face serious setbacks at every stage of education. Considering their current challenges, you’ll find five categories of Native American scholarships and grants dedicated to the following subgroups:
- High school students
- Current and incoming college students
- Grad school learners
- Vocational trainees
- Female learners
Among all diversity groups in America, Native American students have the highest dropout and lowest graduation rates in high school. This is why you will find many scholarships for high school freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors that provide both financial assistance and tutorial help to beneficiaries.
Here are some examples:
- The Catching The Dream Program caters to Native American high school seniors who want to pursue a career in fields like math, science, and computer science
- The College Horizons Program preps tribal highschoolers for college admissions
You will find dozens of college scholarships earmarked for Native American undergraduates. They can be either partial or full-ride scholarships, but you must enroll in full-time bachelor’s programs at college to qualify. Some scholarships may also include additional internships to help you be job-ready after earning your degree.
Here are some examples of college scholarships open to Native American students:
- The Cherokee Nation College Resource Scholarship exclusively help students from the Cherokee Indian tribe
- The Fontana Transport Inc. Scholars Program supports first-generation college aspirants from tribal or underrepresented communities
Indigenous community members find fewer exclusive grad school scholarships compared to college baccalaureate ones.
If you are a Native American pursuing postgraduate or doctoral studies, look for minority scholarships offered for your field of study—like business studies, political science, nursing, medicine, veterinary studies, psychology, architecture, education, or environmental science.
The Native American Vocational and Technical Education Program (NAVTEP) provides scholarships for students—dropout or otherwise—who want to pursue a vocational course with a recognized institution.
Here are some of the course options available to you:
- Creative writing and poetry
- Physical therapist
- Culinary arts
- Beauty school
- Flight school
The availability of vocational scholarships depends on Tribal Economic Development Plans and may be controlled by your local tribal council.
Native American women are a double minority who are grossly underrepresented in higher education scenarios. Only a handful of scholarships are available to indigenous female learners. Here are a few examples:
- The American Indian Heritage Foundation offers up to $30,000 to meritorious women enrolled in a nationally known college or university
- The Kathryn M. Buder scholarships are available only to Native American women who major in social work
- U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs
- American Indian College Fund
- Indian Health Service (IHS)—IHS only supports students pursuing a career in engineering, health and pharmaceutical sciences, and accounting
- American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC)
- Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR)
- Indian Resource Development (IRD)
You should also keep an eye out for non-profit or student organizations that sponsor scholarships for Native Americans across various states and public or private schools.
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You need to fulfill one or more of the following eligibility requirements for most Native American scholarships:
- Show a certificate proving you have the minimum level of tribal ancestry
- Verify your previous education through transcripts
- Have qualifying GPA in relevant academic fields
- Prove financial need through income certificates
- Collect adequate recommendation letters from mentors
Documentation supporting your Native American ancestry can alone qualify or disqualify you for a scholarship. The kind of paperwork you need depends on whether you have the ancestry records of your immediate family.
This table will help you understand the ancestry documentation required:
|You have your family’s ancestry records||
|You don’t have your family’s records||
Most Native American scholarships require you to prove only one-quarter of Indian ancestry.
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