Native Americans are highly underrepresented in education and many industries across the board. Most Native American students come from working class families and communities, and many live under the poverty line, making it seemingly impossible for them to achieve a college education. For this reason, a number of governmental and private organizations have worked to create specific scholarships for Native Americans.

How Can Scholarships for Native Americans Help?

According to the Native Ways Federation, 51% of Native Americans living on reservations survive beneath the poverty line, and an astounding 95% of Native American students demonstrate the need for financial aid. These students do qualify for federal student loans through FAFSA, but these loans will eventually have to be paid back after graduation.

Furthermore, student loans often do not cover tuition, the cost of living, books, and other educational expenses throughout a student’s college career. So, even with the burden of student debt that they’ll have to pay back, a lot of Native American students cannot complete their college educations with federal loans alone.

This is where college scholarships for Native Americans can help. If you are a Native American student, and you’ve given up hope of going to the college or university of your choice, think again. These scholarships have been created with you in mind to help you get the education you need. Scholarships for Native Americans are also designed to bring more diversity to college classroom and to increase the success and better the livelihoods of Native American people living on and off of reservations.

With abundant funding opportunities and college scholarships for Native Americans today, more students will be able to complete their degrees, get better careers, and help their families create better lives for themselves. As more Native American students take advantage of the funds available to them, they can decrease the staggering poverty statistics and greatly improve the future for their families, tribes, and communities.

How to Find Grants and/or Scholarships for Native Americans

The federal government has developed Pell grants to assist students in financial need with college funding. Students who qualify are awarded a grant that they won’t have to pay back after they graduate. Based on the level of need, some grants are competitive and require an application, and some are awarded based on a formula involving income level and other factors. Grants based on formulas to calculate need do not require an application, but interest students have to apply for federal student aid through FAFSA to qualify.

The process for getting a governmental grant for your education is fairly simple (if the government deems you eligible), but how can you find private grants and college scholarships for Native Americans?

Starting with the Department of Labor’s Scholarship Search database, you can enter relevant keywords, like “Native American” to find scholarships that you’re eligible for. Some of these will have a need-based element, while others will be strictly awarded based on academic merit, achievement, and/or demonstrations of leadership.

Institutions specifically organized to assist Native Americans with college funding include but are not limited to:

These are just a few of the foundations and departments dedicated to assisting Native American students in completing their educations and achieving success in their careers. Many of these institutions also provide educational and career resources to help you through the application process and other hurdles that you’ll encounter along your path to a college degree and more.

How to Apply

Each scholarship is, of course, different. For example, the A.T. Anderson Memorial Scholarship is open to students who can demonstrate that they are at least ¼ Native American, Native Alaskan, or Native Hawaiian. Applicants must also maintain at least a 3.0 GPA and must be current members of AISES to earn either $1000 for undergraduate studies or $2000 for graduate studies.

Like most scholarships, this one requires:

While each application form is different and some scholarships will require letters of recommendation, the basics are almost universal. If you’re applying for multiple scholarships (and you should be), you can use this to your advantage. Gather all of the information and documentation that’s necessary for all of your applications and make a copy for each scholarship application you’ll be sending. Once you’ve done that, you can focus on the individual needs of each particular application. You will, of course, have to fill out each application form separately, but if you have all of the information organized and in one accessible place, you’ll be able to complete your applications much more quickly and efficiently.

Of all of the elements of the application process, deadlines are perhaps the most important factor. You may be able to file for an extension, but this is fairly rare, and it does not improve your chances for success. When you choose the scholarships you’re going to apply for, put their deadlines in your calendar and then set milestone deadlines along the way to give yourself plenty of time to get everything you need together in time.

Experience the Benefits of a College Education

If you are one of the millions of Native American students living below the poverty line and/or unable to afford tuition and expenses for further education – either graduate or undergraduate – you can experience the benefits of college scholarships for Native Americans.

Partial and full-ride scholarships are awarded every year, all over the country, and you can find them with a simple search online or a visit to your school’s counselor or your chosen college’s financial aid office. A scholarship could be the answer to your greatest educational obstacle.

Search and Apply for Scholarships on ScholarshipChart.com

ScholarshipChart.com helps students and parents search and apply for scholarships, grants, awards and other financial aid options to help pay for college. Whether you are a high school senior starting college or a single mom going back to school, you can find money for college through ScholarshipChart.com.