In today’s tough economic climate, it is virtually impossible to find a job without some type of higher education. Employers are looking to protect their investments by only hiring new employees that they know have the right amount of education to complete the job successfully.
Unfortunately, tuition rates continue to rise every year making it nearly impossible for some students, especially female Native Americans, to afford a college education. As students are forced to work full-time, sometimes more than one job, just to pay their college education-related expenses, the prospect of earning a higher education is becoming bleaker for female Native Americans. Thankfully, there are many scholarships and grants for female Native Americans available that can help reduce the financial burden associated with attending college.
Female Native Americans are often underrepresented within the higher education community. Typically from a low socio-economic society, female Native Americans do not have access to the resources other student groups do that make it easier for them to attend college. Because of this harsh reality, female Native American students need to search high and low for scholarships and grants to help them afford a higher education.
Non-profit groups are an excellent resource when it comes to scholarships and grants for female Native Americans. With several large national non-profit groups and many smaller, professional societies working to see that minority students are given every chance to earn a college education, there are many opportunities for female Native Americans to receive funding to help pay for their college education.
American Indian College Fund
Established in 1989, the American Indian College Fund has become the largest source of scholarships and grants for Native American students. Primarily focused on raising funds for the 33 tribal colleges nationwide, the American Indian College Fund does have several excellent scholarship programs in place. Unlike other minority scholarship programs, the scholarships provided by the American Indian College Fund are only given to Native American students.
The Association on American Indian Affairs
Covering a wide range of goals such as youth education, health issues, cultural preservation, and the empowerment of tribal communities, the Association on American Indian Affairs is another excellent scholarship and grant resource for female Native Americans. The AAIA awarded its first college scholarship in 1948 and has continued to grow ever since. Now, the AAIA currently awards eight scholarships for graduate and undergraduate Native American students.
Gates Millennium Scholars Program
Established in 1999 by a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, this scholarship program provides minority students with scholarship funds to help them complete their college education. While the Gates Millennium Scholars Program is not intended specifically for Native American students, the program does seek to award this student group with the funding necessary to gain a college education.
American Indian Fellowship in Business Scholarship
This particular scholarship is awarded by the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development to American Indian college or graduate students majoring in business. This scholarship is available to full-time students at the junior, senior, or graduate level. More information can be found by visiting the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development’s website here.
The American Indian Fellowship in Business Scholarship is an excellent example of the types of scholarships that are available to female Native American students studying a specific subject. There are many professional societies such as the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development that have their own Native American scholarship programs. As a way to promote diversity within their industry, these professional societies will create minority scholarships to ensure that highly qualified minority students do not have to worry about finances when pursuing a college education.
CANFIT Program Scholarships
Native American students interested in pursuing a career in nutrition, physical education, or culinary arts in the state of California are eligible to apply for one of CANFIT’s many scholarship opportunities.
CANFIT is a program dedicated to promoting healthy eating and physical education within low-income communities and communities of color where they generally do not have the resources available to them to promote a healthy lifestyle. Through these minority scholarships, CANFIT hopes that students will return back to their communities and share the knowledge they gained when pursuing a health degree.
Government entities are another great resource when it comes to scholarships and grants for female Native Americans. Federal, state, and local governments all have their own views on higher education and many provide the resources necessary to enable Native American students to financially afford a higher education.
Depending on your location, the amount of government grants available to Native American students will fluctuate. If you are currently living on an Indian reservation, you will have access to more local government scholarships and grants. Starting with the local scholarship opportunities will help you secure more financial aid to be used towards your higher education. Once you have a few local government scholarships and grants lined up, you can move on to the state and federal opportunities.
Local Indian Tribes
Local Indian tribes offer some of the best scholarships and grants for female Native Americans. Contacting your local Native American government will help you learn about all of the possible scholarship opportunities. Below are a few examples of the various scholarship opportunities presented by local Indian tribes.
Bois Forte Band of Chippewa Scholarship Program
Available to students enrolled at an accredited institution of higher education who are also a member of the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa Indians, this scholarship program awards up to $5,000 to local students based on financial need. Students must maintain a 2.0 GPA in order to be eligible for this scholarship. More information can be obtained by contacting the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa Indians’ Education Director.
Cheyenne and Arapaho Higher Education Grants
This higher education grant is available to enrolled Cheyenne-Arapaho tribal members who are currently seeking their undergraduate or graduate degrees. The amounts of the grants associated with this program vary on a case-by-case basis and are determined by the student’s financial need.
Roughly 75 grants are awarded each year through this program. Interested students can learn more information by contacting the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma.
Cherokee Nation Scholarship Program
The Cherokee Nation Scholarship Program is home to several different scholarship opportunities, including the Cherokee Nation PELL Scholarship, Cherokee Nation PELL Supplementation Scholarship, Cherokee Nation Scholarship, Haskell Indian Nations University Scholarship, and a Graduate School Scholarship.
In order to be eligible for one of these scholarships awarded by the Cherokee Nation’s Higher Education Office, students need to be a tribal citizen, plan on attending a regionally accredited college or university, and apply for financial aid, either the PELL Grant of FAFSA, after January 1.
State and Federal Governments
When you have exhausted all of the local government and Indian tribal scholarship opportunities, you can turn to the state and federal government for your scholarship needs. As you move from state governments towards the federal government, you will need to focus your scholarship search efforts on broader minority scholarships and grants. The federal government may not have many scholarship and grant opportunities designed solely for Native American students, but it certainly does have many opportunities for all minority students.
Idaho Minority “At-Risk” Student Scholarship
The Idaho government created the “At-Risk” Student Scholarship as a way to help quality students who were at risk of missing out on the chance to earn a college degree simply because of their cultural, physical, or economic situations.
This scholarship awards $3,000 a year, up to four years to students who are residents of Idaho and graduated from an Idaho high school. In addition to the residency requirements, students must meet three of the following five criteria:
- Be physically disabled
- Be a first-generation college student
- Be a migrant farm worker or a dependent of a migrant farm worker
- Be an ethnic minority (Native American, African American, Hispanic)
- Demonstrate a financial need
Wisconsin Indian Student Assistance Grants
Administered by the Wisconsin Higher Education Aids Board, the Wisconsin Indian Student Assistance Grants program provides Native American students an excellent opportunity to receive financial aid to help pay for their college education.
Students who are at least 25% Native American and currently enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program at University of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Technical College, independent colleges and universities, tribal colleges, or any other accredited higher education institutions within the state of Wisconsin are eligible to receive one of these awards. The amount given to a student will be based on their financial need with a limit of ten semesters of financial aid.
Bureau of Indian Affairs Higher Education Grant Program
Administered by the federal government’s Bureau of Indian Affairs, this grant program provides Native American students with the financial assistance necessary to pursue a higher education. To be eligible for one of these grants, students must:
- Be a member of, or at least 25% Indian blood descendent of, a member of an American Indian tribe eligible for the special programs and services provided by the federal government’s Bureau of Indian Affairs
- Be accepted to an accredited college or university that offers an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree program
- Be deemed to have a financial need by the financial aid officer of the post-secondary institution you will be attending
Applications for this grant program can be picked up in the education office of the tribe with which you are affiliated. These grants are administered by the tribes themselves, so you will need to speak to your education office in order to learn more details about this grant opportunity.
Corporations are another great place to look when searching for scholarships and grants for female Native Americans. Most every large, national corporation has a scholarship foundation established. Within their foundation, corporations will create many different scholarship opportunities to ensure specific student groups have access to the financial aid they need in order to earn a college degree.
Included in these scholarship programs are many minority scholarships that focus on providing Native Americans with the money they need in order to afford a college degree. Researching various national corporations and their education foundations will provide you with countless scholarship and grant opportunities.
TimeWarner Tribal Scholars Program
TimeWarner has long been a supporter of Native American education. The TimeWarner Tribal Scholars Program awards $2,500 annually to Native American students attending a tribal college or university. To be eligible for this scholarship, students must:
- Have a minimum of a 2.5 GPA
- Have demonstrated leadership, community service, and commitment to the American Indian community
- Have proof of enrollment in an American Indian tribe or descendency
AT&T and Western Governors University Native American Scholarship
Native American students planning on attending Western Governors University can receive a scholarship from the AT&T Foundation. This scholarship program awards students with scholarships worth up to $5,000 payable at a rate of $1,000 per six months, renewable up to five terms. This scholarship is intended for members of Native American tribes or their spouses who are attending Western Governors University.
IIE UPS Scholarship for Minority Students
UPS and the Institute of Industrial Engineers have teamed up to provide Native American students and other minority groups with a college scholarship provided that they are attending college in the United States and its territories, Canada, or Mexico. This scholarship differs from most scholarships in that students cannot apply directly for the award. Students must be nominated by IE department heads, making this a more prestigious college scholarship.
Ford Motor Company Tribal Scholarship
Ford Motor Company is one of the more generous corporations when it comes to providing Native American students with scholarships and grants. The Ford Motor Company Tribal Scholarship awards up $5,000 annually based on financial need to Native American students studying math, science, engineering, business, teaching, or environmental science.
Interested students must meet the following criteria in order to be eligible for this scholarship program:
- Maintain at least a 3.0 GPA
- Have reached sophomore status at an accredited college or university with a declared major in math, science, engineering, business, teaching, or environmental science
- Demonstrate leadership within the Native American community
- Have proof of Native American heritage
- Have turned in a FAFSA
General Mills Foundation Scholarship
General Mills is another large corporation that annually awards college scholarships to Native American students. Through the General Mills Foundation Scholarship, Native American students in New Mexico and Minnesota are awarded $2,000 if they are selected to receive the scholarship.
In order to be eligible for one of these scholarships, Native American students must meet the following criteria:
- Have a 2.5 GPA
- Attend a tribal college
- Demonstrate leadership within the Native American community
- Demonstrate a financial need
- Proof of their American Indian heritage
Marriott Minority Entrepreneurs Scholarship Program
Minority students looking to earn a college degree in business, franchising, or entrepreneurial studies are encouraged to apply for the Marriott Minority Entrepreneurs Scholarship Program. This program awards five $3,000 scholarships annually to minority students around the country. While this particular scholarship program is not intended solely for American Indian students, they are certainly invited to apply for one of the five awards.
Morgan Stanley Tribal Scholars Program
Morgan Stanley is another large corporation that prides itself on providing college scholarships to Native American students. Native students who are seeking a degree in business and ultimately a career within the financial services industry are invited to apply for this scholarship award.
The scholarships are valued at $2,500 and will be awarded to students currently enrolled at a tribal college or university. Students must also maintain a 3.0 GPA and demonstrate an interest in the business and the financial services industry in order to be considered for one of these awards. The scholarship will be administered by the American Indian College Fund.
Coca-Cola First Generation Scholarship
The Coca-Cola Foundation also has its own scholarship program for Native American students. Each year, the Coca-Cola Foundation awards $5,000 scholarships to Native American students who are the first in their family to seek a college degree at a tribal college or university.
The scholarships will be awarded based on financial need to students who will be incoming freshmen in the fall. Students must also meet the following criteria in order to be eligible for one of these awards:
- Have a 3.0 GPA
- Be in your first or second semester of college
- Be the first member of your family to attend college
- Demonstrate leadership and commitment to the American Indian community
- Have proof of your American Indian heritage
- Demonstrate exceptional academic achievement and financial need
College or University
Another great resource to utilize when searching for scholarships and grants for female Native Americans is the financial aid department at the college or university you are attending. Many institutions of higher learning will have their own scholarship programs in place, providing excellent financial aid opportunities to their students. Oftentimes, alumni or local companies will make a donation to a college or university with the explicit instructions of using the grant money to fund college scholarships.
Since some of these grants are not well publicized, it can be impossible to know about all of the scholarship opportunities available within your own school’s financial aid department, especially those earmarked for female Native American students. Scheduling an appointment with your financial advisor is the first step you need to take when looking to uncover scholarships and grants for female Native American students at your own college or university.
Attending a tribal college or university is one of the best ways to find scholarships and grants for female Native American students. Since these schools only admit Native American students, all of the scholarships and grants awarded by these schools will be for American Indian college students. You will not have to worry about competing with other minority students when trying to secure one of these college scholarships.
Mainstream colleges and universities are also a good source of Native American scholarships. Most colleges and universities will have several different types of minority scholarships established that you can utilize for additional financial aid.
Knowing Your Financial Need
Most of these scholarship programs will require you to fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid in order to determine your level of financial need, so it is a smart idea to file that form as quickly as possible so you do not miss the filing deadline.
Once you have demonstrated your financial need, a financial aid officer will be able to assist you in finding the best minority scholarships your college or university has to offer, increasing your chances of receiving these additional scholarships and grants.
Affording a college education in today’s economic climate can be quite a challenge, especially for female Native American students who traditionally come from low socio-economic areas. Without the means to afford a college education, Native Americans are unable to enhance their lives through a reasonable career path.
Thankfully, there are many scholarship and grant opportunities available to female Native American students that can help reduce the financial burden associated with earning a college degree. Through the financial support of non-profit groups, professional societies, local, state, and federal governments, national corporations, and the colleges and universities themselves, Native American students are able to earn scholarships and grants that can be used to fund their education related expenses. These grants and scholarships allow American Indian students to gain a higher education and not only better their lives but also the lives of those in their communities.