The Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Bureau of Indian Education offer resources to support 574 federally recognized tribes in the United States.
According to the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), as of 2017, only 17% of American Indians and Alaska Natives pursue post-secondary education. That same year, NCAI found that 26.8% of American Indians and Alaska Natives live in poverty. After a history of displacement and genocide, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) attempts to support Native Americans with equity measures and government assistance. Founded in 1824, the BIA is an extension of the Federal Government and has evolved dramatically since its inception. Its mission shifted over time from forced assimilation and colonization to self-determination and cultural maintenance efforts. Currently, BIA provides social, safety, employment, transportation, and various other services to 574 federally recognized tribes. 68% of BIA funding is used to directly benefit tribes through contracts, grants, or compacts. Tribes often distribute dividends to their members with government contributions, however, individuals with Indigenous lineage are also eligible to apply for a number of social services that provide financial and housing assistance.
The Financial Assistance and Social Services (FASS) program offers general, child, non-medical, or custodial adult care, burial, and emergency assistance to American Indians and Alaska Natives who do not utilize the Temporary Assistance to Needy Family service. Individuals registered with a tribe can submit the FASS application. FASS simply asks for information on the applicant’s income and profile to determine what type of assistance and allocation is needed. The Housing Improvement Program (HIP) is a housing grant program for American Indians and Alaska Native individuals who need standard housing. HIP offers home improvement, providing up to $7,500 in health and safety repairs and $60,000 for building code renovations. HIP also provides replacement housing for those living in poor conditions and new housing for applicants without any. Eligibility for this program depends on whether an applicant is a member of a federally recognizes tribe and lives in an approved tribal area, has an income that does not exceed 150% of federal poverty guidelines, and has no other resources or options for housing assistance.
The Bureau of Indian Education (BIE), established in 1926, prepares American Indian and Alaska Native students with scholarships, opportunities, and support to help them succeed. BIE is responsible for the operation of Haskell Indian Nations University and Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute. These institutions are dedicated to preserving tribal history and promoting cultural prominence. BIE also features university scholarships for Native American students of federally recognized tribes. Full-time students with a GPA of over 2.0 and have proof of tribal enrollment are eligible to apply.
To learn more about BIA, please refer to their website for further information on its various services. BIA also includes applications for both FASS and HIP and a FAQ on its website. To determine whether you qualify for a program or send an application, contact your local BIA Regional Housing Office or tribal servicing office. The American Indian College Fund site can answer additional questions on the Full Circle scholarship and the application process.