Every year, the cost of higher education rises, and the resources available to working families shrinks. Grants and scholarships are good options for students who wish to avoid massive student loan debt. Students of Native American heritage are eligible for a number of scholarship and grant programs.
According to FinAid, students should be members of a federally recognized tribe in order to be eligible for most Native American scholarships. To prove ancestry, you may need any one of the following: birth records, an affidavit from a tribal official, tribal enrollment verification, or a tribal identification card.
There are several institutions that help provide financial aid to Native American students. The American Indian College Fund provides several different scholarships, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs opens applications to students with at least 1/4 Native American ancestry. Other sources include the Daughters of the American Revolution, American Indian Higher Education Consortium, and the American Indian Science and Engineering Society.
Students should also try scholarship search engines, such as MyFSA from Student Aid on the Web, a service provided by the Department of Education. Use search terms such as "Native American," "Indian," "Alaska native," and "First Peoples" to maximize search results, then narrow by field of study and institution.
Contact your tribal office to see if they offer scholarships. Tribal offices often extend financial aid to students, though the amounts are usually small. Also, many colleges and universities offer scholarships or partial tuition waivers for Native American students. In Montana, for example, residents of the state with at least 1/4 Indian ancestry will qualify for a fee waiver at a state school.