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Graph: more than 60% of all U.S. students continue their education, while only 17% of Native American students go to college. While 62% of all U.S. high school students go to college, only 17% of Native Americans are able to do so.

No matter how smart and deserving they are, most young Native Americans do not have the chance to attend college. Even if they are fortunate enough to earn a high school diploma, poverty and lack of access to educational opportunities force many to abandon the dream of higher education.

The mission of our Scholarship service is to give more American Indians and Alaskan Natives the resources and encouragement they need to learn and succeed. By harnessing the power of knowledge, these future leaders can bring about positive changes in their own lives and in their communities.

The AIEF program is one of the United States’ largest grantors of scholarships to Native Americans, providing nearly $450,000 to about 225 students each year. Of these, nearly half are the first in their family to attend college. In addition, we mentor and support scholarship recipients throughout the year, which makes a dramatic difference in their success rates.

In Memory of Vaughn Vargas, June 14, 1986 - August 17, 2023

Filling the Gap

90% to 95% of our scholarship recipients stay in school, compared to only 20% of other Native students. 90% to 95% of our scholarship recipients stay in school, compared to only 20% of other Native students.
Read about one of our successful students!

The Selection Committee, which includes enrolled tribal members from around the country, looks beyond grade point averages and standardized test scores when choosing scholarship recipients. We seek out students who exhibit passion, resiliency, and leadership. We welcome applicants with solid performance and realistic goals, especially if they have overcome substantial obstacles or are nontraditional students.  Nontraditional students may be defined as single parents with children, Elders returning to school after a long absence, or those students pursuing midlife career changes.

In short, we look for students who might be overlooked by other scholarship programs, but have demonstrated the motivation and drive to improve their own lives and the lives of others. We offer Graduate, Undergraduate, and Vocational scholarships. All finalists selected by the committee are reviewed for these scholarships.

Focus on Retention

Typically, only about 20% of Native Americans who start college complete their first year, because of the tremendous culture shock, academic challenges, and financial strain. That’s why we offer much more than just funding.

Our staff and Selection Committee members provide one-on-one mentoring for scholarship recipients throughout the year. Students receive “care packages” of school supplies, household goods, and holiday gifts. When needed, we can arrange for tutoring and other emergency assistance.

All of this adds up to outstanding success for our scholars: 90% to 95% of our recipients stay in school. This service is unique due to the diversity of our Selection Committee, the broad approach to selecting recipients, the one-on-one mentoring, and the students’ own motivation and drive to succeed.

We are proud of our scholarship recipients and with the help of our generous donors, we hope to give the gift of education to more students each year.


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Senior Year Timeline & Planner — Tool for Students

Tom Russell Impact Award Scholarship

A special scholarship opportunity for Native American/Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian students pursuing an Elementary or Secondary Education teaching degree or Post-Secondary Education degree. The award amount will be between $500 and $2,000 for the 2024-2025 school year. Priority will be given to Tribal College/University students, but all other students attending various colleges/universities are still encouraged to apply.

Applications for this scholarship are now open — APPLY NOW! The deadline to complete and submit the application is May 31st, 2024 at 11:59 pm ET.

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Our Mission: Serving immediate needs. Supporting long-term solutions.
Our Vision: Strong, self-sufficient Native American communities.

16415 Addison Rd, Suite 200, Addison, TX 75001-3210
United States
Phone: 800-416-8102
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