Federal Student Aid
By far the biggest single source of money for college is the federal government, which provides 47 percent of all grants and scholarships available to U.S. students. The many federal funding sources include the Pell Grant, the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant, and the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant. Pell Grants offer the maximum possible payment at more than $6,000 per academic year. Funds from the Department of Education and the Office of Federal Student Aid are generally need based. Other agencies and departments, like the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Labor, also offer scholarships. The Department of Defense SMART (Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation) Program offers comprehensive scholarships for undergraduate, master’s, and doctorate students interested in STEM careers. Visit smartscholarship.org.
Apply for federal student aid by filling out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Because federal money is awarded on a year-to-year basis, be sure to keep your federal student profile up to date by completing a FAFSA every year you are in school.
Find the FAFSA and more information on scholarships, as well as useful information on funding your future, at studentaid.gov.
American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES )
Multiple scholarships, as well as opportunities to find a mentor, develop leadership skills, and network with a wider world of academic and professional opportunities, are available to AISES student members. Here is just one of those opportunities.
AISES Intel Growing the Legacy Scholarship Program ▸ Giving Native American students a boost in computer science and engineering fields is the goal of the Intel Growing the Legacy Scholarship Program. Intel, a multinational technology corporation headquartered in California, developed the program in 2017 in partnership with AISES after announcing a $1.32 million contribution to AISES to support scholarships for Native Americans. Scholarship awards support undergraduate and graduate students pursuing degrees in computer science, computer engineering, and electrical engineering (chemical engineering and material science will also be considered).
Recipients are eligible to receive financial awards, mentoring from Intel professionals, and a paid summer internship opportunity. Note that students do not need to complete or agree to complete an Intel internship to be eligible for a scholarship. Scholarship awards are up to $5,000 per academic year for undergraduate students and up to $10,000 per academic year for graduate students. Participants who receive scholarships are encouraged to reapply each year. In addition to internships, students also have the opportunity to apply for full-time employment at this influential software company.
To be considered for the Growing the Legacy Scholarship Program, students must have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher and meet these requirements:
American Indian Graduate Center
The American Indian Graduate Center (AIGC) has been providing financial support for more than 50 years and is now the largest provider of scholarships to Native students in the U.S. Students from more than 500 tribes in all 50 states have benefited from funding provided by AIGC, which administers the Science Post Graduate Scholarship Fund.
Science Post Graduate Scholarship Fund ▸ Both merit and need based, the Science Post Graduate Scholarship Fund (SPGSF) is focused on promoting STEM research and careers with tribal governments and the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) on and off reservations. Recipients of financial SPGSF assistance must be pursing an undergraduate, graduate, or professional STEM degree full time at an accredited institution. Eligible fields of study include medical and life sciences, engineering, physical sciences, chemistry, natural resources/conservation, mathematics and computational sciences, earth, environmental and agriculture/animal sciences, technology, computer sciences, architectural sciences, public health, and psychology. Awards range from $10,000 to $30,000 (the maximum undergraduate award is $20,000 and the maximum graduate award is $30,000 per year). Up to 140 scholarships are awarded annually.
Applicants must meet the following requirements:
Indigenous Education Inc.
Cobell Scholarships and research fellowships for Native students are administered by the New Mexico–based nonprofit Indigenous Education Inc. The funding was established as a result of the settlement in the legal case Cobell v. Salazar bought by banker Eloise Cobell, Blackfeet Nation, who was seeking back payments and better accountability for Individual Money Accounts managed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The eventual settlement in the case was $3.4 billion — the largest in U.S. history — and it has endowed the scholarships in perpetuity.
The Cobell Scholarship Program ▸ American Indian and Alaska Native undergraduate and graduate students can benefit from academic year and summer Cobell Scholarships and research fellowships. Since 2015, the fund has awarded more than 7,500 scholarships totaling more than $20 million to approximately 2,880 American Indian and Alaska Native students. The awards can be up to $6,000 per academic year for vocational and undergraduate students and up to $12,500 per academic year for graduate and professional students. Cobell Scholarship awards are both merit and need based.
All applications are read by Cobell Scholarship reviewers. These Indigenous professionals, who are located around the nation in high schools, colleges, and nonprofit organizations, consider a range of factors, including overall academic strength, language and writing skills, community engagement, and leadership.
Applicants must be pursuing college degrees or technical training at an accredited institution. While there is no minimum GPA requirement, the following are general guidelines: graduate and professional, 3.5 or higher; undergraduate and post-baccalaureate, 3.25 or higher, either from high school or previous coursework; and vocational, 2.5 or higher.
To be eligible for scholarship funding, students must meet these requirements:
American Indian College Fund
For more than three decades, the American Indian College Fund has provided scholarships to Native students. Today, the organization awards more funding than any other nonprofit and helps more than 4,000 students stay in school each year. Since 1989 the fund has provided almost 150,000 scholarships. In the last two years alone, the fund has distributed more than $38 million in scholarship funding. In addition to helping individual students, this organization funds accredited TCUs (tribal colleges and universities) and contributes to programs that support student success, from preschool through graduate school.
Full Circle Scholarship ▸ The American Indian College Fund offers the Full Circle Scholarship to American Indian and Alaska Native college students seeking undergraduate and graduate degrees at any nonprofit, accredited college or university. It also provides scholarships to students at its 35 accredited tribal college partners (use the same Full Circle Scholarship application for tribal college scholarships).
To complete an application, you’ll need to supply proof of tribal enrollment (or CIB) or your parent’s/grandparent’s enrollment with your birth certificate. Also needed is a professional-looking digital photo (no selfies) and your most recent high school or college transcript (an official transcript is not required at the application stage). Note that the most important part of the application is the reflective questions, which should be answered thoughtfully in a short, 300-word essay format.
Applicants must have at least a 2.0 cumulative GPA and meet the following requirements:
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