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Nursing Scholarships for Indigenous American Students

| NurseJournal Staff

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Native American communities continue to face persistent challenges that limit their access to education which may derail future employment prospects. College-educated Native American nurses who can use their skills to provide healthcare to their communities remain in short supply.

This guide provides an overview of national, local, and tribal American Indian scholarships to help prospective nurses achieve their educational and career goals.

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Undergraduate Nursing Scholarships

Indigenous American students interested in nursing careers may qualify for several scholarships for Native Americans or other underrepresented racial/ethnic groups. This list of undergraduate American Indian scholarships, while not exhaustive, presents funding possibilities for high school and undergraduate students.

American Indian Education Fund Undergraduate Scholarship Program

Who Can Apply: This scholarship supports full-time undergraduate study for American Indian and Alaska Native students. Applicants must provide transcripts, ACT scores, and documentation of tribal membership.

Amount: $2,000

American Indian Nurse Scholarship Awards

Who Can Apply: This scholarship assists students enrolled in undergraduate nursing programs. Each applicant must have one-fourth Native American heritage; a high school diploma or equivalent; and a recommendation from a teacher, counselor, or another school official. Recipients can renew the award each semester.

Amount: $1,500 per semester

Augustana University Diversity Scholarships

Who Can Apply: Augustana University, located in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, offers Diversity Scholarships for full-time students of color. Recipients may renew the award annually depending on financial need and academic standing.

Amount: $1,000

Cherokee Nation College Resource Scholarship

Who Can Apply: This award supports members of the Cherokee nation working toward their first associate of arts or science, associate of applied science in nursing, or bachelor's degrees.

Amount: Varies

Gates Scholarship

Who Can Apply: This highly selective scholarship supports minority high school seniors from low-income households who plan to enroll full-time in accredited four-year schools. The award covers costs not already covered by other financial aid or family contributions.

Amount: Varies

Grand Rapids Community Foundation Hackett Family Scholarship

Who Can Apply: The Grand Rapids Community Foundation sponsors the Hackett Family Scholarship for seniors or graduates of high schools in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Women of color receive preference in the applicant pool.

Amount: Varies

Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin Higher Education Grant

Who Can Apply: Recipients of this tribal grant should be members of the Menominee community and enrolled as full time-students taking 12 or more credits each semester. Eligibility is determined by financial need and academic merit.

Amount: $2,400

Page Education Foundation Grants

Who Can Apply: This program assists students of color, including Native Americans, who face financial and academic barriers to higher education opportunities. Minnesota high school graduates who attend or plan to attend Minnesota postsecondary institutions may apply.

Amount: $1,500-$2,500

Sault Tribe Higher Education Grant Program

Who Can Apply: Members of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians who attend public colleges or universities in Michigan may apply. The scholarship covers unmet financial needs as determined by the school.

Amount: Varies

Washington American Indian Endowed Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Applicants must be enrolled in upper-division undergraduate courses at accredited schools in Washington. The award supports residents of the state with close social and cultural ties to the Washington American Indian community.

Amount: $500-$2,000

Graduate Nursing Scholarships

Graduate training in nursing opens the door to in-demand, successful healthcare careers. However, earning a graduate degree can present a significant financial burden. Students interested in advanced graduate training can use this list of Indigenous American scholarships to explore financial aid opportunities.

ACHE Albert W. Dent Graduate Student Scholarship

Who Can Apply: This award, sponsored by the American College of Healthcare Executives, provides financial assistance to racially/ethnically diverse students pursuing graduate degrees in healthcare management. Candidates must demonstrate financial need.

Amount: $5,000

Bureau of Indian Education Higher Education Program

Who Can Apply: The Bureau of Indian Education administers this program for students pursuing graduate degrees. Candidates must be members of federally recognized tribes and maintain full-time enrollment in master's or doctoral programs.

Amount: $1,000-$5,000

Catching the Dream Program

Who Can Apply: The Catching the Dream Program delivers scholarships three times a year to students seeking bachelor's or graduate degrees. Each applicant must demonstrate one-fourth or more Native American ancestry and membership in a federally recognized tribe.

Amount: $5,000

Chickasaw Nation Higher Education Grant

Who Can Apply: The Higher Education Grant, intended for students who hold Chickasaw Nation citizenship or citizenship confirmation, provides support for undergraduate, master's, and doctoral study. Recipients must maintain a GPA of 2.0 each semester.

Amount: Varies

Cobell Scholarship

Who Can Apply: This competitive need-based scholarship for enrolled members of federally recognized tribes helps cover tuition and other costs for undergraduate, graduate, or professional programs. Recipients must enroll in full-time study at accredited public or private institutions.

Amount: Varies

Empowering Scholars Initiative: American Indian Graduate Center Access Scholarships

Who Can Apply: The American Indian Graduate Center assists American Indian and Alaska Native students to offset the cost of graduate entrance exams, including the GRE, GMAT, and LSAT. Each applicant must provide a copy of their undergraduate transcripts and indicate which test they intend to take.

Amount: $200-$320, depending on the exam fee

Indian Health Service Health Professions Scholarship

Who Can Apply: This award provides financial aid to qualified American Indian and Alaska Native undergraduate and graduate students in eligible health professional degree programs. Each recipient must fulfill a service commitment in clinical practice upon completion of their degree.

Amount: Varies

Minnesota Indian Scholarship Program

Who Can Apply: Minnesota residents with one-fourth or more Indian ancestry may apply for up to five years of assistance for graduate study. Recipients must maintain at least half-time enrollment in Minnesota colleges or universities.

Amount: $6,000

Osage Nation Higher Education Scholarship

Who Can Apply: This award, for enrolled members of the Osage Nation, supports undergraduate and graduate study through the doctoral degree. A recipient must maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA each semester.

Amount: Varies

Ruth Muskrat Bronson Fellowship

Who Can Apply: The American Indian Graduate Center administers this fellowship for American Indian and Alaska Native graduate students pursuing nursing careers. Each recipient must possess one-fourth Indian heritage from a federally recognized tribe.

Amount: Varies

Frequently Asked Questions: Scholarships for Indigenous American Students


When should I start applying for scholarships?

A high school student should generally begin their scholarship search in the summer before their senior year. Learners who intend to apply for graduate school should explore grant and scholarship prospects at least a year before their intended start dates. All degree-seekers should check the scholarship websites for current information regarding application deadlines and eligibility.

How much Native American do you have to be to get a scholarship?

Most scholarship programs specify requirements to determine eligibility. The Bureau of Indian Affairs generally awards scholarships to students who can demonstrate at least one-fourth American Indian ancestry. Many Indigenous American scholarships, including those administered by the Office of Indian Educator Programs, restrict awards to members of federally recognized Native American tribes.

How do I prove my Native American heritage for college?

Student members of the 562 federally recognized Native American tribes significantly increase their chances of receiving funding. Each enrolled member of a tribe recognized by the federal government and the National Congress of American Indians receives a certificate of Indian blood card to use as proof of membership for scholarship applications.

Can my student loans be forgiven if I am Native American?

Native Americans may qualify for several student loan forgiveness plans. The Indian Health Services Loan Repayment Program reduces loan payments for healthcare professionals who commit two years of service in Native American or Alaska Native communities. Indigenous Americans who served in the U.S. Army may qualify for its college loan repayment programs.

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