Native American Financial Aid Overview

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The history of higher education and Native Americans runs deep. It is could quite possibly be one of the longest arrangements in American history. Harvard University was founded with the purpose of training Native Americans, as was Dartmouth College. It is this legacy that has led many schools to keep their doors open to Native students with scholarships.

One school that continues it arrangement with it Native American roots is Ottawa University in Ottawa, Kansas. The Ottawa tribe gave the school its founding endowment with a provision of 20,000 acres of lands to the institution in the mid 19th century. Free education was part of the transaction and to this day (over 145 years later) Ottawa tribal members may still attend the private university. Ottawa tribal membership (the Ottawa Tribe of Oklahoma) gives tribal students full tuition, room and board, and regular fees. A significant financial aid package for any student to be sure.

There are other schools which provide Native American scholarships and there are even states which have a Native student program like Montana and Maine. The state programs usually have a state residency requirement before providing for the tuition of Native college students. Some states offer in-state tuition for Native students who are members of a tribe in state, but may not be residents of the state. Oklahoma and Oregon provides such financial aid. Oregon even goes so far as to allow tribes which formerly lived in state boundaries. Among all programs, from both public and private financial institutions, higher education has done much to provide for Native students.

Also, tribes provide scholarships to their college students. The amount and requirements differ, but typically the requirements are a school be an accredited two or four year institution, a minimal GPA be maintained, and be a full-time student. The amounts differ but a general rule of thumb is that the larger the tribe the smaller the scholarship, and vice versa. Also typical is for the scholarship to only meet unmet financial need based on the financial requirements of the school.

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