Native American Scholarships

In response to the declining numbers in Native American enrollment at American colleges, a number of quality school scholarships designed specifically for native students have been created. These scholarships and education programs are offered through a variety of sources: tribal, federal, state, corporate, and professional organizations. These sources have different standards when it comes to who qualifies for their scholarships. These aren't always academic standards, but can often be economic standards as well. Some of the tribal scholarship standards are very strict, calling for twice as much "native blood" in applicants as federal scholarships call for. There are a few major scholarships out there that offer the greatest opportunity for the broadest range of students, and these get an extremely popular response.

Spirit of Sovereignty Scholarship

This scholarship is awarded every year, and has a value of $2000. The educational standards are fairly standard, with a 3.0 GPA being the standard for consideration of the scholarship. This is one of the many tribal college-based scholarships. In tribal college scholarships, monies earned through scholarship must be applied at a tribal college, not a mainstream college. In fact, the amount of scholarships in general that are available for Native Americans in tribal colleges is much larger than for mainstream universities. Students need to provide proof of ancestry or tribal certification for consideration of the scholarship.

The Minnesota Indian Scholarship

This scholarship is an example of those that require more native blood than the federal standard for scholarships. This scholarship requires that all applicants have at least 1/4 Native American ancestry. For many similar federal programs, the number is only 1/16th. The scholarship is available every year, and it comes in two separate amounts. Undergraduate students can claim up to $4000 from the scholarship, but graduate students can claim up to $6000 per year. Students must be enrolled in a state college, and need to financially qualify for the Pell Grant. This scholarship can be claimed for ten years of college.

Indian Health Service Scholarship

This scholarship is an example of scholarships that are funded by federal organizations. The program is open to Native Americans that meet federal lineage standards, and are pursuing degrees in the healthcare field. This scholarship is also an example of scholarships that have a required service component as a stipulation for receipt. For this specific scholarship, recipients need to commit to at least six months of service in Native American communities. The capacity with which the student is to fulfill his or her service obligation can be worked out between the student and the administrative body of the scholarship. The mission of this scholarship is to engender a spirit of "giving back" to Native American communities, and it provides full coverage of the student's tuition and college fees.

Bureau of Indian Affairs Higher Education Grant Program

This scholarship is through the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which is the primary government office dealing with Native American issues. The scholarship is only available to Native American students of 1/4 blood or greater, that are enrolled in a program that will yield either a bachelors or associates degree in any discipline. Students applying also need to qualify as in "financial need" through the institution which they are attending. This program is one of many that the Bureau of Indian Affairs offers Native Americans, and is part of a larger overall effort by the Bureau to enhance Native American educational success around the country. Anyone who is interested in applying for this scholarship can pick up an application packet at their local tribal office and either submit it on-site or through the mail.