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Q: Native American wanting to attend College for FREE! ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: Native American wanting to attend College for FREE!
Category: Reference, Education and News > Education
Asked by: ndnred-ga
List Price: $20.00
Posted: 03 Jul 2003 12:04 PDT
Expires: 02 Aug 2003 12:04 PDT
Question ID: 224825
Ok, here's the senario.  I'm a native american from the Cheyenne River
Sioux Tribe in South Dakota.  I also come from the Navajo tribe in New
Mexico but am enrolled in CRST as full blooded native.  Currently I'm
in the navy just finishing up my six year enlistment and have no
desire to reenlist.  It ran it's course of usefulness.  I'll be
getting out in Oct of this year and plan on moving to Vermillion, SD. 
So I might be attending USD come spring time but I wanted to know if
there was any schools out there that offered a free education to
Native americans...   As I keep hearing from my fellow shipmates and
other people about how all indians get to go to school for free and
wonder why i didn't just do that since it was my only intent and
purpose for joining the military.  Anyways it always starts out with
someone always saying "i know of someone who goes to school for free
and they're indian...... blah.. blah...".  As always my questions
comes back to where did they go to school and what tribe are they
from?  How do you know this person and can i get in touch with em? 
And the answer i get is that they'll get back to me cause they don't
know at the time.....  Well after doing a little research myself..
I've found two schools that offer full rooom and board as well as
waiving the tution.  Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute in
Albuquerque, NM and Haskell in Kansas offer these incentives but from
what i hear of those places.  I don't think I'd want to attend them
Subject: Re: Native American wanting to attend College for FREE!
Answered By: byrd-ga on 03 Jul 2003 17:22 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Dear Ndnred,

Thank you for the very interesting question.  I’ve wondered about this
myself. No, I don’t have any Native American blood, but a good friend
of mine in high school was a member of the Chippewa (Ojibwa) tribe of
Wisconsin, and I’ve had several other Indian friends over the years
who had all heard the same things.  You’re right – it seems everyone
knows someone who got these incredible educational benefits, but no
one can ever name names or direct one to exactly where they can be
found.  So I was glad to research this matter to try to find out once
and for all what the score was.

I found both bad and good news.  The bad news is that it appears the
mere possession of Indian blood is not always necessarily enough after
all to entitle one to a free college education in the U.S., at least
not with Federal monies, despite all the rumors and talk.  A quote
from the website of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), which oversees
programs for Native Americans, states, “Contrary to popular belief,
Indians do not receive payments from the federal government simply
because they have Indian blood.”    Here is a link to that page:  and the main BIA webpage
is here:  Mainly, it
states that BIA funds are available for educational grants for Native
Americans who also meet certain other criteria, chief among them being
financial need.  In your case, because of your GI Bill, you might not
qualify on a “need” basis.
However, even though aid from the BIA isn’t automatically forthcoming,
that’s not to say there aren’t other avenues to explore.  Here’s a
link to another site that listing options for Native Americans in
applying for financial aid:  As with the BIA grants,
though, applicants must meet a variety of criteria, including
financial need.

But then, as you mentioned, some individual schools and universities
do offer tuition and fee waivers for persons of Native American
ancestry.  Here’s a site that lists institutions of higher education
offering such waivers, though again with certain qualifying criteria:
 Do bear in mind that with most of these plans, however, you’ll likely
still e liable, as you surmised, for your room and board, as well as
for other miscellaneous fees, books, etc.

The University of Montana, perhaps in an effort to attract qualified
students, has one of the more generous listings of possible financial
aid available.  See here: where they say
they offer a complete waiver of tuition and fees for Native Americans,
contingent on an acceptable academic standing.  However, they offer
the same benefit to veterans, so you’re covered there as well.

Michigan also has a number of schools offering tuition waivers to
Native Americans.  Here are some to check out:

Here are some other state schools offering full and partial waivers: 
Colorado (Ft. Lewis College – Durango):
New Mexico (Highlands University):
North Dakota:

In order to find others, I’d suggest using the following search term,
then following up on as many results as you have time for:
university “tuition waiver” “native american” OR “american indian” OR

As I’m sure you know, there are many, many institutions of higher
education, with equally as many different applications for financial
aid.  Each school has its own.  The only “one size fits all” would be
the Federal BIA application, and even there each school has its own
application in addition to that.

One other thing you might also be interested in looking into is The
American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC).  Their website is
located here:  They currently represent 34
colleges in the US and one in Canada, and have a unique, tribal based
approach to higher education, with a number of benefits.

Also, just for your information, here are links to both the Cheyenne
River Sioux (Lakota) Tribe: and the Navajo
Nation: should you wish to contact them
directly for further assistance.  In any case,  if you don’t already,
you will of course need to have certified papers establishing your
membership in one or both tribes in order to take advantage of any of
these waivers or other opportunities.   In addition,  here’s a link to
the National Congress of American Indians website, which has links and
contact information for all the Indian groups in the US:   South Dakota contacts would be under the
“Aberdeen” area, while Navajo has its own area.

Bottom line?  Sure, go ahead and see if you can get a waiver.  They’re
certainly out there. Most of these programs are in place as a result
of old laws and treaties, and are designed precisely to benefit people
of your ancestry for reasons we all know.  Why not take advantage of
them if you can?  Some of the schools listed are excellent.  However,
if you don’t care to attend any of those, and/or if you’d just rather
go to USD regardless of the availability of any waivers, you do have
your GI Bill, which certainly will pay up wherever and whatever you
decide.  Either way you’re covered.

I hope this has been of help to you.  If there is anything not clear,
please do ask for clarification before rating and closing the question
so I might have the opportunity to ensure your satisfaction with the
information provided.

Best wishes,

Additional search terms used:
“Cheyenne River Sioux”
“educational benefits” “native american” OR indian
“Bureau of Indian Affairs” education OR educational

Clarification of Answer by byrd-ga on 04 Jul 2003 16:02 PDT
Hi Ndnred,

Thank you so much for the complimentary comments and the very generous
tip.  I'm so glad you were pleased with my efforts, though I still
wish I could have been the bearer of even better news.  I did do
another check to see if I could find anything about waivers at USD,
unfortunately without success.  However, before giving up on that
entirely, I'd like to encourage you to at least ask at the financial
aid office to see if they might have any programs of that type that
are just not be posted online.  In any case, you can be proud that you
have made the sacrifice and are about to reap the reward of those six
years of service. That reward is well-earned, I know.  Best of luck to
you in your future endeavors.

ndnred-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $5.00
five stars for an informative answer.  It was exactly what I expected.
 Nothing is free in life and there are sacrifices to be made for a
reward that might be worth waiting for.  So which state should I
become a resident.  I sure wished South Dakota had these types of
incentives at their universities but I still have some time to make
some decisions and will definitely keep my options open.  if anything
i'm sure this information will come in handy.  thank you for the great
work you put into this question.  It really helped my think the whole
thing over again.  But i'll have to see what happens next and go where
the money is.....  thanx...

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