Enrollment Tips

7 Ways for Native Americans to Pay for Grad School

By The Room 241 Team February 17, 2013

If you are considering pursuing a graduate degree in order to advance your career, it is important that you plan strategically for ways to pay for grad school. Scholarships and grants should always be considered before taking out loans for the simple reason that they do not have to be paid back. If you are looking into getting a master’s degree in education or your doctorate, you’re probably already working. Trying to balance the needs of your students, your family and classes are stress enough. You do not want to have to worry about repaying student loan debt.

How Native Americans can get help paying for grad school

If you are a Native American, you may qualify for a variety of financial aid programs. Here is an overview of seven of them.

Tribal Colleges Education Equity Grants

  • Funded by the Equity in Educational Land-Grant Status Act of 1994, this grant is designed to aid students interested in the food and agricultural sciences who are attending a land-grant tribal college or university.
  • Fields of study that qualify include sustainable energy, global food shortages, climate change, the prevention of childhood obesity and food safety.
  • More information about the Tribal Colleges Education Equity Grants can be found at the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) webpage.

Indian Adult Education

  • Started by the Snyder Act of 1921 and administered by the Department of the Interior, the Indian Adult Education grant is awarded annually and must pay for direct educational services.
  • Beneficiaries must be members of a federally recognized American Indian Tribe.
  • For more information about this award, visit the Indian Adult Education page of the CFDA.

American Indian College Fund

  • The American Indian College Fund offers support for tribal colleges, funding for language preservation and individual graduate-level scholarships.
  • To qualify, the applicant must be a registered member of a federally recognized tribe or the child or grandchild of an enrolled tribal member. Applicants must maintain a 2.0 GPA.
  • For more information about this scholarship or to apply online, visit the American Indian College Fund website.

American Indian Education Foundation

  • The American Indian Education Foundation offers graduate-level scholarships up to $2,000.
  • To qualify, applicants must be an American Indian, an Alaska native or a native Hawaiian and enrolled in at least six credit hours of a master’s or doctoral degree program.
  • For additional information, visit the AIEF website.

American Indian Graduate Center

  • With the support of the Bureau of Indian Education, the American Indian Center has awarded more than 15,000 graduate fellowships ranging from $1,000 to $5,000.
  • To qualify, AIGC scholars must demonstrate a financial need. The deadline for applications is June 1.
  • To apply online, visit the AIGC website.

Association on American Indian Affairs

  • The AAIA offers scholarships for students from federally recognized and unrecognized tribes.
  • Qualifying applicants must be registered at an accredited college for both the fall and spring semester.
  • An online application is available at the AAIA website.

Catching the Dream

  • Catching the Dream offers three scholarships ranging from $500 to $5000.
  • To be eligible, applicants must apply for all other financial aid available and write an essay about their future plans.
  • More information about this scholarship can be found on the “Catching the Dream” page of the Native American Scholarship Fund website.

One way to start your search

Start your search for student financial aid at the U.S. Government’s Federal Student Aid Program website. As an office of the U.S. Department of Education, the Federal Student Aid program has become the largest single provider of student aid in the country. Millions of Americans have been able to attend college because of the over $150 billion in loans, grants and federal work study programs that the office awards every year.

Start by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online. The information you enter will be shared with any university or college that you designate. The information will be used to determine which of their financial aid and scholarship programs you qualify for. The FAFSA is also used to determine which Federal need-based aid programs you will receive, such as the Pell grant, and whether you can take out subsidized student loans.

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