Opportunities for Native Americans to pursue higher education continue to grow, due in part to the federal government's mandate to provide aid and support to tribal colleges and universities. Financial aid and college scholarship opportunities grow each year as well, helping to propel the college enrollment rate of Native Americans well above the national average.
College scholarships: the American Indian College Fund
Located in Denver, Colorado, the mission of the American Indian College Fund (AICF) is threefold: to spread awareness of the Fund and of tribal colleges and universities; to raise college scholarship funds for American Indian students attending tribal and mainstream colleges; and to raise money for other needs and projects of the tribal schools.
The AICF awards approximately 5,000 college scholarships a year. Monies given to individual schools are used to award Tribal College Scholarships to candidates of each school's choosing. Other undergraduate scholarships are awarded directly from the AICF to American Indian students attending both tribal and mainstream colleges and universities.
College scholarships: the American Indian Graduate Center
Another large source of student scholarships and financial aid for Native Americans is the American Indian Graduate Center (AIGC), which provides monies to both undergraduate and graduate students.
The mission of the AIGC is to improve the cultural and economic wellbeing of American Indians and Native Alaskans both individually and tribally. Their efforts focus on developing educated and forward-thinking leaders who will steer their communities into an era of prosperity, productivity, and self-reliance.
The AIGC, with the generous support of the Tommy Hilfiger Corporation Foundation, also administers the All Native American High School Academic Team, a program recognizing Native American/Alaska Native students who demonstrate superior success in academics, leadership, and American Indian community service.
As part of the AIGC's overall mission, this program promotes academic excellence and the pursuit of higher education among Native American and Alaska Native students, with the goal of preparing them for future roles as community leaders and role models. All of the students recognized by this program receive financial awards to pay for the cost of attending the college or university of their choice.
College scholarships: other opportunities
In addition to the AICF and the AIGC, there are several other organizations that provide various student scholarships to Native Americans:
AISES (American Indian Science and Engineering Society)
With the goal of substantially increasing "the representation of American Indian and Alaskan Natives in engineering, science and other related technology disciplines," the AISES awards university scholarships to Native American undergraduate and graduate students pursuing degrees in various areas of engineering and science.
AAIA (Association on American Indian Affairs)
Offers college scholarship opportunities to both undergraduate and graduate students demonstrating financial need.
IHS (Indian Health Service)
As an arm of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the IHS awards university scholarships to pay for the education and training of undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students pursuing degrees in health-care related areas.
IRD (Indian Resource Development Program)
Headquartered at New Mexico State University, the IRD awards several college scholarships to students at all levels who are pursuing degrees in various areas of science.
ITC (Intertribal Timber Council)
Dedicated to improving the management of natural resources that are important to Native American communities, the ITC sponsors a variety of different undergraduate scholarships and fellowship opportunities each year.