College Planning

College Planning Resources for Indigenous Students

two hands holding graduation cap over their head

Finding Your College Fit: Indigenous Serving Institutions

When deciding where to apply to college, think about how each college you’re interested in serves Indigenous students, whether through a dedicated Indigenous student support program, a multicultural office of student services, or student-led organizations on campus. Some institutions have specific missions for serving Indigenous students:

  • Tribal Colleges/Universities are 2- or 4-year postsecondary institutions that foster American Indian culture, languages, and traditions. They serve a variety of students, from young adults to senior citizens, both Native and non-Native.
  • Native American Serving Nontribal Institutions are 2- or 4-year postsecondary institutions that have at least 10% or more American Indian/Alaska Native identifying student populations.

Start your college exploration by thinking about what you might want your college experience to be like and what you want to do after college. Talking with your parents/guardians, school counselor, or a mentor makes it easier to understand what you should look for as you explore your options.

Paying for College: Scholarships

Paying for college can be an intimidating thought, especially if you just look at the published price. The reality is that most students don’t pay the full published price. Because of scholarships and other financial aid, colleges that look expensive could be the most affordable. Most students rely primarily on financial aid from the federal government or directly from colleges, but scholarships can cover costs that other aid doesn’t cover.

What are scholarships?

Scholarships are a great way for students to pay for college because they are “free money,” meaning you don’t have to pay them back. Thousands of scholarships are available to pay for books, lodging and meals, or even part of your tuition.

How do I find scholarships?

Begin by talking with your high school counselor, Tribal Education Department, and mentors about scholarships they would recommend and to ask for guidance in finding and applying for the best scholarships for you.

After reviewing scholarships we’ve identified, search online for more opportunities. Here’s some keywords to search with if you’re having trouble: Native American/American Indian scholarships, Tribal scholarships, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander scholarships, college scholarships for American Indian in STEM, or Tribal Colleges and Universities scholarships. You may also find scholarships you’re interested in based on your extracurricular activities, academic interests, or other criteria.

How do I get scholarships?

When you locate scholarships you’d like to apply for, see what requirements you need to meet to be eligible, what you need to do to apply, and when the application is due. Be sure to answer every application question and be certain you have completely and accurately fulfilled every requirement.

For more tips on how to find your college fit and apply and pay for college, check out our Indigenous College Planning Guidebook.