Financial Aid, Grants & Scholarships for Native American & Canadian Students: Apply Now

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Financial Aid, Grants & Scholarships for Native American and Canadian Students
Financial Aid, Grants & Scholarships for Native American and Canadian Students: Apply Now

Financial Aid, Grants & Scholarships for Native American Students

Here is a list of scholarships for Native American students:

  • AAIA Scholarship Program.
  • AIGC Scholarship Program.
  • AISES Google Scholarship.
  • AIS Scholarship Program.
  • American Indian College Fund Full Circle Scholarship.
  • American Indian Education Fund Scholarships.
  • Catching the Dream Scholarship Program.

Eligibility

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 several documents:

  • 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 territorial organization.
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Sources of Aid

In addition to the resources listed below, the Fastweb scholarship search lists many awards 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 Alexandria, Virginia.

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 Natural Resources.

For general information about the Indian Higher Education Grants for undergraduate and graduate students, call or write to US Bureau of Indian Affairs, Office of Education, at 202-208-6123 or 1849 C Street, NW, Washington, DC 20240-0001. The Bureau of Indian Affairs can also be reached at 1-800-246-8101.

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 scholarships@collegefund.org.

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” scholarship. 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 and the 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.

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.

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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.

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.

American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) and American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) AISES has long been the front-runner in Native American education and issues. Other AISES web pages include the AISES Scholarship Programs 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.

Native American And Tribal Grants

Qualify and Receive Funds for College

Native Americans, and Native Alaskans, have a long history of being under-represented in traditional American colleges and universities. Over the years, a large number of financial aid programs have been put into place to help redress this imbalance. These programs are supported by both the private and public sectors, and offer much needed assistance to Native American students who are struggling to pay for college.

Documenting Your Ancestry

Before you apply for any grant program dedicated to Native American students, you must first be able to prove, with accepted documentation, that you are at least ¼ American Indian. This will take some time, but it is vital to securing any financial aid specifically designed to benefit Native Americans and Native Alaskans.

You will need to research your ancestry using birth certificates, family records, and tribal history. You will also want to consult the Dawes Rolls , which are census documents prepared between 1898 and 1914 when American Indians were being relocated to government reservations. These documents contain a listing of the people accepted by the Dawes Commission as members of the Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw and Seminole tribes.

The following resources will prove invaluable as you trace your American Indian ancestry:

Once you have gathered the necessary documentation, and can present a complete genealogy proving a direct line of Native American descent, you will need to apply to the Federal Bureau of Indian Affairs for a Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood. The CDIB is a requirement for all financial aid programs dedicated to Native Americans, and will serve as proof of your American Indian Heritage.

Once you have received your Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood, you can begin your search for grants, scholarships and other financial aid programs dedicated to Native American students.

Native American Education Grants from the Federal Government

The first stop along the path to any college funding is the Federal government. While past relations between the Tribal Nations and the Federal government have certainly been strained, recent attempts to redress a history of persecution have led to a number financial aid programs designed to help Native Americans improve their educational opportunities.

The White House Initiative on Tribal Colleges and Universities  provides information on the 33 fully accredited Tribal run colleges and universities in the United States. Through the WHITCU students can find information on tribal run colleges and universities that offer support and encouragement to Native American students pursuing their higher education goals. The WHITCU works with their companion agency, the Bureau of Indian Education to administer a number of grants and scholarships designed to benefit college-bound Native Americans. These include the Bureau of Indian Education Higher Education Grant and the Indian Health Service Scholarship. The BIE also provides information on regional scholarships, loan resources, and tuition waivers for Native American students.

In addition to Federal programs specifically dedicated solely to Native Americans, students should consider applying for the more common government financial aid programs, including:

These programs are open to all applicants, regardless of race or ethnic heritage.

The American Indian College Fund

The American Indian College Fund is a prime source of financial aid for Native American students looking to fund their college education. While the AICF doesn’t specifically offer grants, they do support three integral scholarship programs that deserve mention.

The American Indian College Fund is also a prime source of information on developing programs that benefit the Native American community, and students are encouraged to remain in contact with the organization to keep up to date on relevant news and events.

Financial Aid from Your Tribe

College-bound Native Americans can often find financial aid through their own tribe. Individual tribal nations routinely offer grants, scholarships and loans to students who are struggling to find the necessary resources to go to college. Once you have determined your tribal ancestry, contact your tribal elders to learn about any programs that may be available. The University of Oklahoma provides an exhaustive listing of recognized American Indian Tribal Nations, along with links to their dedicated websites.

Other Sources of College Grants for Native American Students

Financial aid for college-bound Native American students can be found from a variety of sources. In addition to the Federal government, many state governments support grants and scholarships for their Native American residents. These programs are predominately found in states that have a large American Indian population. Students are encouraged to contact their state’s Department of Higher Education to learn about any financial aid programs that are dedicated to Native American residents.

Beyond any government sources, many professional associations and philanthropic organizations sponsor grants and scholarships for Native American, Native Alaskan, students. In many cases these programs will target students who are members of specific tribes, or who are pursuing specific professional degrees. Native American students will find grants and scholarships at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Some examples of the variety of grants available will give Native American students an idea of what may be available to them.

  • The American Indian Graduate Center is a philanthropic organization dedicated to helping Native American achieve their educational goals. 1500 grants and scholarships are awarded annually to qualifying Native American and Native Alaskan students.
  • The Indian Health Service provides education loans, scholarships and grants to Native American students pursuing a career in healthcare. Special attention is given to those applicants who intend to practice medicine within their native community.
  • The Gates Millennium Scholars Program offers full tuition grants and scholarships to deserving minority students. 1000 awards are given annually, with special attention being given to Native American and Native Alaskan applicants
  • The National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship provides research grants to graduate level students pursuing their degrees in science, technology, engineering or mathematics. Students must be enrolled at an accredited college or university, and special focus is given to minority students including Native Americans.
  • The Tyonek Native Corporation provides grants and scholarships for Native Americans. General scholarships are available to students enrolled in a 2 year or 4 year college or university. Vocational grants are offered to students who are enrolled in an accredited technical or vocational school.
  • The Association on American Indian Affairs administers the Adolph Van Pelt Special Fund for Indians. This fund provides scholarships and grants to Native Americans who can demonstrate the requisite level of financial need. Awards range from $500 to $1500 per semester.

This is just a small selection of the available grant programs dedicated to helping Native American students realize their dream of a college education. Many more programs are available to college-bound Native Americans and Native Alaskans. The secret to finding these lucrative financial aid programs is research and diligence. Begin your search for financial aid for college early, to allow plenty of time to research, and to apply for, all grants and scholarships for which you may be eligible.

For further information on financial aid programs dedicated to Native American students please refer to our section on Scholarships for Native Americans.

Financial Aid for Canadian Students

Post-Secondary Student Support Program

Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) provides financial assistance to First Nations students who are enrolled in eligible post-secondary programs.

Update

To ensure that First Nations students have the same opportunities for success as other Canadian students, Budget 2019 is investing $320 million over 5 years beginning in fiscal year 2019 to 2020, to renew and expand funding for the Post-Secondary Student Support Program.

On this page

About the program

The program aims to improve the socio-economic outcomes for First Nations by supporting First Nations in providing eligible students with funding to access education opportunities at the post-secondary level. This is consistent with the principle of First Nations control of First Nations education.

To be eligible for funding, students must maintain satisfactory academic standing within an eligible post-secondary institution. These include:

  • educational institutions affiliated with, or those that deliver post-secondary programs by arrangement with a post-secondary institution
  • First Nations-designated and directed institutions

Funding for this program is provided to First Nations or First Nations-designated organizations as part of core funding agreements with Indigenous governments and organizations.

First Nations are responsible for determining the selection criteria and funding allocations in accordance with the provisions of their funding agreement and national program guidelines.

Eligible costs covered by the program may include:

  • tuition
  • books
  • travel support
  • living allowances

The maximum amount payable per full time student cannot exceed $53,000 per year.

On an extraordinary and justified basis, the maximum amount payable per year for a student in an advanced or professional degree program or a masters or doctoral program, may exceed $53,000 up to a maximum of $90,000.

No student is automatically entitled to this amount.

Who can apply

Status First Nations post-secondary students who maintain satisfactory academic standing within an eligible post-secondary institution.

Funding is limited and not all students may be funded. Partial funding may be provided. Applications are valid for 1 school year only.

For more information, contact your local band office or ISC regional office.

Inuit students who formerly received funding through PSSSP should apply through the Inuit Post-Secondary Education Strategy.

Deadline

Please contact your local band office or ISC regional office for information on deadlines to apply for funding.

How to apply

First Nations students who want to pursue post-secondary studies and access available funding programs should contact their local band office or ISC regional office.

For more information, consult Post-Secondary Student Support Program and University and College Entrance Preparation Program: National Guidelines 2021 to 2022.

National program guidelines for previous year

Additional federal assistance for Indigenous students

You might also be interested in reviewing other potential sources of financial assistance:

Related links

Check out financial aid opportunities available to Canadian students.

The information below applies to Canadians seeking aid for study in both Canada and the United States.

Scholarships

The following databases and publications can help you locate scholarships and fellowships specifically for Canadian students.

ScholarshipsCanada.com ScholarshipsCanada.com is a searchable database of several thousand scholarships, prizes, and bursaries for students entering their first year of post-secondary studies in Canada. It includes both school-administered and private awards. UWaterloo Graduate Office’s Scholarship Database Searchable database of undergraduate scholarships, graduate fellowships, and post-doctoral opportunities, with a decidedly Canadian emphasis.

SFU Graduate Awards for Canadians Contains a database of Canadian graduate and postdoctoral fellowships, compiled by Simon Fraser University. Scholarships and Bursaries from the Canadian Government This site provides information on scholarships for Canadian students who wish to study abroad and for international students who wish to study in Canada.

AMMSA: Scholarships for Aboriginal Students AMMSA publishes a guide to scholarships and bursaries for aboriginal students.

Books

Canadian Guidance Services Canadian Guidance Services publishes a 250-page book of scholarships and awards intended for Canadian high school students entering Canadian universities.

Major Scholarship Programs

Girl Guides of Canada Girl Guides of Canada offers several scholarships each year to girl and adult members of the Guild. TD Canada Trust Scholarships The TD Canada Trust Scholarships for Community Leadership provide $10,000 per year for tuition and $7,500 per year for living expenses for up to four years (total $70,000).

Loans

Canadian Higher Education Loan Program (CanHELP) CanHELP is an alternative loan program for Canadian students to study in US colleges and universities.

Registered Education Savings Plans

A Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) is a tax-sheltered education savings program for Canadians.

Other Financial Aid Resources

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) NSERC is the Canadian equivalent of the United State’s National Science Foundation (NSF). Its programs include grants and scholarships.




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