Scholarships are a way to close the gap between the cost of attendance at a college and a family’s own resources. Among the many scholarships that students can apply for are those that are established to support students based upon the ways they define themselves. There is no comprehensive list of identity-based scholarships; professional associations, companies, non-profit entities, religious organizations, political groups, and colleges and universities are among the many sponsors of scholarships that may be awarded in part based upon a student’s race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or presence of a disability. Bright Horizons College Coach wants to help ensure that students from all backgrounds have access to the resources they need to achieve their educational goals and has therefore launched this monthly scholarship series to help students pinpoint funding opportunities based upon their unique identities. Check out the below resources, along with the other posts in the series, and you may discover funding sources that will make covering that college bill a little (or a lot!) easier.

This month, we look at scholarship resources for indigenous American students. Note that the below list is not exhaustive, but is intended to provide a starting place for students to launch their scholarship searches. Your high school’s counseling office, general scholarship search sites like, and individual college websites can also provide useful scholarship information.

  • American Indian Services (AIS) creates programs to help indigenous students find funding sources for college and offers its own scholarship of up to half of tuition. The site maintains a list of additional student resources, such as social media groups, a list of free or reduced tuition colleges, and links to other organizations who work with this population.
  • The American Indian College Fund is a comprehensive college site. This organization helps students prepare for college, funds the Full Circle Scholarship for both undergraduate and graduate students, and provides career mentoring opportunities.
  • The Cobell Scholarship is awarded based on merit and demonstrated need to any eligible college student who is an official member a U.S. federally recognized tribe. Students can be pursuing a degree at any level, from a certificate to a graduate degree.
  • Students who are granted a tuition waiver have part or all of their tuition waived at a public college or university in their home state. Students must be residents of that state, at least one-quarter indigenous, and an enrolled member of a U.S. federally recognized tribe. Find the higher education website in your state of residence for more information.
  • Tribes also help students pay for college expenses. Each tribe sets their own policy for administering funds. For example, the Education Services Department of the Cherokee Nation provides college funding support and scholarship information to qualified applicants, as does  The Navajo Nation. Students should contact the appropriate tribal office to learn more about available resources for college.

Remember, students are expected to report outside scholarships they receive to their college, and receipt of scholarships may impact other parts of a student’s financial aid award. It is best practice to reach out to the Financial Aid Office at your college for clarification of awarding policies.

Best of luck, and please see the awarding organization’s website for full scholarship details and program opportunities.

Determine the Best Way to Pay for College

Written by Robyn Stewart
Robyn Stewart is a member of College Coach’s team of college finance experts. Prior to joining College Coach, she worked as a former financial aid officer at College of the Holy Cross. Visit our website to learn more about Robyn Stewart.