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California State University, Long Beach
American Indian Student Services
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Scholarships and Grants for American Indian Students

Why are only some Indians eligible for college funds or scholarships?

Tribal Scholarship funds are a direct result of TREATY provisions or business contracts between the federal government and individual tribes. The federal government and businesses contract with tribes to pay loyalties in exchange for land use or mining rights. Some individual tribes then set up tribal scholarship agencies to distribute the funds among its members.

Not all American Indian tribes signed treaties or made special arrangements with the United States. Special arrangements were made for Alaskan and Hawaiian Natives even though they did not sign treaties. No other provisions, deals, or treaties have been made with Natives outside the United States which establish scholarship funds for non-US citizens.

Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Grant Information

The Bureau of Indian Affairs has a general scholarship for American Indians. Your tribe needs federal recognition (based on an active signed treaty) for you to be eligible to apply. Proof of tribal membership is required. The grant application is available with the education officer of the tribe in which you are affiliated or possess membership. As the majority of federally reeognized tribes are administering the grant program for their tribal members, call your tribe first. *See Anna Nazarian-Peters for Tribal contact number, address and info about the process.

Private Foundations

There are some private scholarships which do not require documentation of American Indian tribal enrollment, heritage or ancestry. However, tribal documentation makes the process easier. *See below for a list of scholarships.

Tribal Enrollment

...also known as Tribal Membership, Tribal Documentation, Tribal Papers, Certificate of Indian Blood, Enrollment Card, Census Card, Tribal Census, BIA Roster, BIA Census, Tribal Records

  • If you are enrolled in your tribe, you can receive a copy of your documentation from your tribal enrollment office.
  • If you are not enrolled, you must meet the eligibility requirements for your tribe before you can apply for membership. Call your tribe’s enrollment office to obtain its requirements and application for tribal enrollment. *See Anna Nazarian-Peters for Tribal contact number, address and info about the process.

Tribal Scholarship Information

  1. You need to be an enrolled member of your tribe to be eligible to apply for a tribal scholarship.
  2. Each tribal scholarship office has its own requirements so eligibility varies from tribe to tribe. You must also complete a financial aid application using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA) http://www.fafsa.ed.gov

In addition, the following documents will be required by most tribal scholarship offices:

  1. Academic Transcripts
  2. Tribal Financial Need Analysis (FNA)
  3. Letter of Admission for new students (this can be obtained from the Enrollment Services Office)
  4. Verification of Enrollment for continuing students (a print out of the current list of the classes you are enrolled in)
  5. Certificate of Indian Blood
  6. Be sure to follow all deadlines

Scholarship Websites

The following websites have information regarding scholarships for American Indians. Some require proof of enrollment while others do not. There are too many to list so I have compiled just a few to get you started. You can always conduct your own search using a search engine such as www.google.com for “American Indian/Native American Scholarships”.

Apply to as many scholarships you are eligible for to broaden your chances of receiving awards. Be sure to pay close attention to deadlines.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact Anna H. Nazarian-Peters. Good luck!

Download the American Indian Student Services Scholarship brochure: Scholarship Brochure pdf icon