The average cost of a college education in the 2013-2014 academic year, including room and board, for a four-year institution ranged from $18,391 for an in-state resident at a public school to $40,917 for a private, nonprofit program. Grants provide free money to cover these growing costs. If you're a descendant of the Cherokee Nation you may be eligible for financial help to pay for college from specialized sources that are only available to Native Americans.

National Relief Charities Scholarships

The National Relief Charities -- or NRC -- is a nonprofit organization that funds programs to help in-need Native Americans. Ninety-five percent of the students receiving funds from the NRC complete college. As a Native American community, members of the Cherokee Nation may apply for these scholarships. Students with a strong academic background who are likely to succeed in college have the best chance at receiving this free money. NRC funds are available at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

American Indian College Fund

With a goal of educating 60 percent of the American Indian population through tribal colleges by 2025, the American Indian College Fund provides scholarships to help those who are in financial need. The fund provides free money for students who are attending tribal schools, as well as other non-tribal educational institutions. Applicants must provide proof they are a member or descendant of an American Indian tribe -- such as the Cherokee Nation -- to qualify. Accepted documentation includes birth certificates from parents or grandparents.

Cherokee Nation Foundation

The Cherokee Nation Foundation offers grant money to descendants of the tribe in the form of scholarships. The foundation has three different types of funding available. These include privately funded scholarships, tribal money and institutionally based grants. Some of the privately funded scholarships -- such as the Phillips and Upton programs -- are only available to citizens of specific counties. You may apply for more than one type of scholarship through the foundation. Scholarship programs are available for both undergraduate and graduate study.

Cherokee Nation Government

The Cherokee Nation government offers grants to members and descendants of the tribe. Students may not apply for these scholarships if they plan on attending a vocational associate of applied sciences program. Students must complete volunteer hours to receive grant money under this program's guidelines. For every $100 granted, the student must give one hour of volunteer time. Humanitarian or community-based services at nonprofit organizations are acceptable ways to complete this requirement.

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