Scholarships for Native American Women

Perhaps one of the most tragic statistics about Native American students is that the majority of them never have the opportunity to continue their education beyond high school – if they are even fortunate enough to graduate. The lack of focus on continuing their education in the culture in which they are raised, and lack of funding combine to make breaking the mold and going to college the exception – not the norm – for these students. (Generally where 63% of all U.S. high school students continue their educations, only about 17% of Native Americans are able to do so.)

Students who do have the desire, motivation, and support of their families and mentors to continue on often must still overcome the last hurdle – financial assistance – in order to continue. For students who would not be able to attend college without financial assistance the first step is the completion of the free application on line at; completion of this application will result in the determination of your degree of financial need, and you will be given an SAR score. These results will be important parts of almost every scholarship or grant application packet you submit.

American Indian Education Foundation

The AIEF is one of the largest grantors of scholarships to Native American students in the U.S., providing nearly $450,000 to approximately 225 students each year, but that is not all they do! Their staff and selection committee work together throughout the year to bridge the gap and mentor the scholarship recipients, providing support, encouragement, occasional ‘care packages,’ and even emergency assistance or tutoring if necessary. This combination of funding plus mentoring has resulted in an unusually positive student retention rate -- over 95% of all AIEF scholarship recipients stay in school. These scholarships are offered to both young women and men but they are just too worthwhile to omit from this listing, and are more than worth your time to apply for. Deadline: April 4th. If you would like additional information regarding this unique program, as well as their various scholarship opportunities, visit the website at

American Indian Heritage Foundation/Miss Indian U.S.A.

It says on the website, “She Walks In Beauty, As She Walks In Two Worlds,” and each year the AIHF sponsors this competition for young Native American women, and names their Miss Indian U.S.A. The winner receives a two-year full scholarship to a nationally known college or university – up to $15,000 per year. The website is, but for more information about the competition and scholarship contact: Scholarship Coordinator

American Indian Heritage Foundation
6051 Arlington Blvd.
Falls Church, VA 22044

Kathryn M. Buder

The Kathryn M. Buder Center at Washington University in St. Louis annually offers full scholarships to Native American students who would like to return to their communities to practice social work. Study is to be pursued at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University. Additional information regarding this program may be found at the website You will also find a link at that site for a very helpful guide to available Native American scholarships that you might find helpful.

Catching the Dream

This organization provides three varieties of scholarships each year to Native Americans so they can pursue their education beyond high school. Applicants must be at least ¼ Native American, an enrolled member of a tribe, and planning to attend an accredited college or university on a full-time basis to be eligible. Scholarship amounts range from $500 to $5,000.

  • MESBEC Program (Math, Engineering, Science, Business, Education, Computers) – this is the oldest of the Catch the Dream programs, and these are the six fields where the tribes need graduates the most.
  • Native American Leadership Education Program (NALE) – this program was designed to encourage paraprofessionals in Indian schools to complete their degrees in education, counseling, or school administration.
  • Tribal Business Management (TBM) – for students majoring in business, finance, management, economics, banking, hotel management, and other related fields who plan to work for tribes in economic development areas.

Catching the Dream
8200 Mountain Road, NE, Suite 203
Albuquerque NM 87110

Gates Millennium

visit the website at for more info.

Jeanette Rankin Foundation

The Rankin Foundation offers these scholarships each year and their application process kicks off on November 1st. Over 500 awards have been given since 1978, when the program began, with the intention of helping low income women over 35 – sadly a group where Native American women often find themselves – to return to school to make a better life for themselves and their families. If you would like more information and to see if you would qualify for one of these scholarships, visit the website at

National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC)

Whereas construction used to be a man’s field, you already know it’s not. That’s why you’re already enrolled in a construction related degree program. The NAWIC Founder’s Scholarship is awarded annually to a minority student – and as a woman AND a Native American – you definitely qualify. This organization gives multiple scholarships each year in amounts of either $1,000 or $2,000. For additional information you may contact:

NAWIC Founder’s Scholarship Foundation
327 South Adams
Fort Worth, TX 76104

The Open Meadows Foundation

Although this foundation has nothing to do with scholarships or grants it is definitely worth mentioning here and for you to keep in the back of your head for future reference.

The Open Meadows Foundation provides grants to fund projects that promote gender/racial/economic justice that are led by benefit women and girls. Grants up to $2,000 are given for projects designed and run by women or girls; that reflect the diversity of the community they serve; promote community power; and, have limited access to funds or have had trouble obtaining funding.

State Based

Many states with large indigenous populations of Native Americans offer them scholarships to accredited colleges and universities to encourage them to continue their education beyond the high school level. You can visit your state government website to find out if they offer this type of scholarship or grant in your state.

The Financial Assistance Office of Your University or College

Many schools offer scholarships specifically targeting female students and/or students of Native American heritage. Yours may be one of them, and this is a topic that should be on the top of your list when you make your college visits.

Colleges and University that Offer Free Tuition to Native Americans

There are numerous colleges and universities that offer free tuition to Native American students, but be aware these offers are subject to change. Dartmouth University in New Hampshire had a long history of providing free tuition but since 2008, has offered scholarships and financial assistance to satisfy the demonstrated need. Two other specific universities where you may find financial accommodations of this sort are Fort Lewis College in Colorado and Haskell Indian Nations University in Kansas. These are only a few, and don’t forget to search private colleges, too.


Contact your tribal government to see if they have a college financial assistance program or scholarship program. They should also be aware of any local scholarships offered by organizations or colleges or universities in your area that you may be eligible for.