College Tuition Assistance for American Indians

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    Tuition Waivers for In-State Students

    • Some states waive tuition for resident American Indian students who enroll in an in-state college or university, with some requiring students to be members of a tribe within that state. For example, California, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Oklahoma, Utah and Washington offer waivers to American Indian college students and residents. Massachusetts offers the waiver to state residents who are members of a historical state area tribe; in Michigan, students must be members of a Michigan tribe. In Maine, a student must be in a tribe or have a parent or grandparent in a tribe, and the waiver also covers room and board.

    Waivers Without Reference to State Residency

    • Some universities offer tuition waivers to Native American students regardless of their state residency. Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colo., for example, offers waivers to students who are 1/4 American Indian or who are in a federally recognized tribe, or directly descend from a tribe member who lived on an Indian reservation prior to June 1, 1934. Haskell Indian Nations University in Kansas offers waivers to those who can document 1/4 or more tribal ancestry. Some North Dakota universities offer "diversity tuition waivers" to American Indian students.


    • There were over 50 scholarship programs available in 2011 to help promising college students of American Indian descent. Each program has specific deadlines and eligibility criteria, including tribal affiliation, need and special talents or academic achievement. For example, the Minnesota Bois Forte Scholarship provides $5,000 awards to students accepted into a Minnesota or out-of-state post-secondary school, who are members of the Bois Forte Band of Ojibwa. The Truman D. Pickard scholarship awards $2,000 to students with academic merit and financial need who are in a federally recognized tribe or Native Alaska corporation and intend to pursue studies in natural resources. The Native American Journalist Association provides $500 to $5,000 per year to a promising student of journalism enrolled in a federally recognized tribe.


    • Certain grant programs specifically help Native American college students, such as the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs Higher Education Grant program, and those that are more widely available to college students that American Indian students can apply for, such as the Federal Pell Grant Program. The BIA grant is available to students who are a member or at least 1/4 descendent of an American Indian tribe that is eligible for BIA programs and services and who are admitted to a nationally accredited higher-education institution leading to an associate's or bachelor's degree. Students must also demonstrate financial need. Pell grants are federal grants generally available based on financial need to students accepted for admission to post-secondary institutions.

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