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With the cost of tuition skyrocketing, scholarships can provide some much needed relief for talented college-bound students and their families. To maximize your chances of winning one (or more), think about the traits that make you unique. If you are a member of a recognized tribe, or a descendant of a member, you may be eligible to apply for multiple scholarships that aim to increase the representation of American Indian and Alaska Native students in institutions of higher education. The following list is by no means comprehensive, but it can be a great starting point as you start hunting for scholarships.

American Indian Graduate Center Scholarships

Award Amount: Varies
Application Deadline: Varies

Students who are enrolled full-time at an accredited institution in the United States may be eligible for one of over 20 scholarship or fellowship opportunities through the American Indian Graduate Center. To be eligible, you must be affiliated with an American Indian tribe or Alaska Native group. You must also complete the FAFSA and a financial needs form (due by July 15). The system will prompt you to fill out a profile, which will determine your eligibility for various opportunities. Applications open in January each year.

Cobell Scholarship

Application Deadline: Varies

The Cobell Scholarship is an exciting opportunity for students who are members of a federally recognized tribe and pursuing any kind of postsecondary degree at an accredited nonprofit institution. Scholarships are awarded to candidates who meet eligibility requirements, demonstrate financial need and academic promise, and provide thoughtful responses to application questions. Applicants will be notified if they are selected as finalists, and then will be required to submit additional documentation.

DAR American Indian Scholarship

Award Amount: $4,000
Application Deadline: February 15
Minimum GPA Required: 3.25

The Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) sponsors an American Indian Scholarship for undergraduate and graduate students with financial need (undergraduates are given preference), which can provide successful applicants with a one-time award of $4,000. American Indian students from any tribe are welcome to apply. Your application must include a statement of your family history and your hopes for your education, a letter or card issued by a Tribal Council providing proof of American Indian blood, three letters of recommendation, and an official copy of your transcript. You can find more information on the application form.

DAR Frances Crawford Marvin American Indian Scholarship

Award Amount: Varies
Application Deadline: February 15
Minimum GPA Required: 3.25

DAR offers the Frances Crawford Marvin Scholarship to one successful applicant each year (though the award amount varies based on the endowment). Students must be enrolled full time at a two- or four-year institution and be able to demonstrate financial need. To qualify, you must provide a card or letter issued by a Tribal Council, three letters of recommendation, transcripts, and a letter of family history. Details are available on the application form. This award does not automatically renew, but students may reapply each year.

Full Circle Scholarship Program

Application Deadline: May 31
Minimum GPA Required: 2.0

The American Indian College Fund, with the support of generous funding partners, administers nearly 60 different scholarships as part of the Full Circle Scholarship Program. Each scholarship has its own criteria (for example, membership in a specific tribe, residency in a certain state, a GPA higher than the 2.0 minimum, etc.). Luckily, you just need to fill out one application form to be considered for all of the Full Circle Scholarships for which you are eligible.

All of the scholarships in this program require their applicants to be registered members of federally recognized or state-recognized tribes or have at least one parent or grandparent who is a registered member. (For Alaska Natives, Native Corporation membership is valid.) To apply, complete the online application between January 1 and May 31 of each year. The application asks about your accomplishments and extracurricular activities; and requires submission of your tribal affiliation documentation, a photo to give donors, and digital copies of your transcript. You will also have to answer three questions:

  • What challenges have you overcome to attend college?
  • What are your educational and career goals, and how will this scholarship help you achieve them?
  • How will completing your education impact the Native American community?

Indian Health Service Scholarships

Award Amount: Varies
Minimum GPA Required: 2.0

The Indian Health Service offers three scholarships for students at varying stages in their education who want to pursue a career in health care. The Preparatory and Pre-Graduate Scholarships are available to members and descendants of federally recognized, state-recognized, or terminated American Indian tribes; or Alaska Natives. These two scholarships are available for students in pre-degree or bachelor’s degree programs in the health professions. On the other hand, applicants to the Health Professions Scholarship, which requires them to complete a two-year service commitment after graduation in exchange for financial aid, must be members of federally recognized tribes. All three programs provide a one-time educational award, plus monthly stipends of no less than $1,500 for the academic year. You can find information about your eligibility for all three of these programs here.

Tribal College and University Scholarship

Application Deadline: Varies

The Tribal College and University Scholarship Program supports students attending tribal colleges. While funding comes from the American Indian College Fund, each tribal college is responsible for administering their award. This means that you should contact your school’s financial aid office for deadlines. Generally, the application opens August 1 for the fall semester and January 1 for the spring semester. The date of scholarship award notification varies by school. To apply, fill out the online application.

While your membership to your tribe meets eligibility requirements for some exciting opportunities, you are by no means restricted to those scholarships. You are welcome to apply for thousands of other scholarships open to all students, regardless of affiliation with a tribe. Some scholarships you might qualify for are open only to underrepresented students or to students of color (like the Gates Millennium Scholars Program), while others are available based on gender, academic merit, financial need, and field of study. Some are wacky. There are scholarships for redheads, Star Trek fans, and seniors who wear Duck Tape to prom. Good luck!

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