An Introduction to the Bureau of Indian Education’s
Higher Education Grant Program
The Bureau of Indian Education’s (BIE) Higher Education Grant Program is not an entitlement
program. It is important for you to become familiar with the requirements of the BIE’s Grant program
college admission requirements, as well as your tribe’s eligibility terms and the relationship between
these programs and offices. Completing admission and financial aid packages is time-consuming and
requires your undivided attention to successfully complete them. The information below is intended to
help you understand the resources available to you.
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THE GRANT?
The purpose of the BIE’s Higher Education Grant Program is to provide supplemental financial
assistance to eligible American Indian and Alaska Native scholars entering college who are seeking an
associate or baccalaureate degree from a nationally accredited institution.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR A GRANT?
Students seeking assistance must comply with the following eligibility criteria:
1. Must be a member of, or at least one-quarter degree Indian blood descendent of a member of an
American Indian tribe which is eligible for the special programs and services provided by the
United States through the Bureau of Indian Affairs because of their status as Indians. See the
Tribal Leaders Directory at the following website:
2. Must be accepted for admission to a nationally accredited institution of higher education which
provides a course of study conferring the Associate of Arts or Bachelor of Arts or science
3. Must demonstrate financial need as determined by the financial aid officer of the collegiate
WHERE CAN I OBTAIN A GRANT APPLICATION?
The BIE does not award these grants. The grant application is only available from the education officer
of the tribe in which you are affiliated or possess membership. Please call your tribe for more
information. (See the Tribal Leaders Directory at the following website:
While you are waiting for your application, you should start to request all available financial aid
information from your selected college to be sent to you. Be sure to inform the Financial Aid
Officer that you are an American Indian and will be submitting the grant application along with
other financial aid applications. Many colleges know about the BIE’s Grant Program and can refer
you to a knowledgeable counselor. However, be sure to check with your college because not all
colleges will automatically transfer your paperwork. There are still a few colleges and universities that
are not aware of the grants specifically available to American Indians or Alaska Natives.
GRADUATE STUDENT RESOURCES
The BIE administers a grant program through the American Indian Graduate Center (AIGC) that offers
supplementary financial assistance for students pursuing post-baccalaureate degree programs.
The criteria for a student to apply for a grant are:
1. Be an enrolled member of a federally recognized American Indian or Alaska Native tribe in the
2. Pursue a masters or doctorate degree as a full-time student at an accredited graduate school in
the United States.
3. Apply for campus-based financial aid through the federal financial aid process at the college by
Since 1969, the AIGC has served American Indian graduates in all fields of study. First time
applicants are assessed a non-refundable application fee of $15. Applications must be received
within the AIGC’s required timeframes. Additional information is available from the following
address and telephone number: American Indian Graduate Center, 3701 San Mateo Blvd NE,
Suite 200, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87110, (505) 881-4584 or toll free at 1-800-628-1920.
Additional information is available on the AIGC website: www.aigcs.org.
Law students seeking opportunities to enhance their academic success will want to contact the
American Indian Law Center, Inc. This organization conducts an eight-week session to prepare
potential Indian law students for the rigors of law school. There is an emphasis in the development of
skills necessary for success in study habits, legal research and legal writing. This program is primarily
for those students that have been accepted into an accredited institution.
For additional information regarding the program and application process, please contact the American
Indian Law Center, Inc., P.O. Box 4456, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87196 or call (505) 277-5462.
TRIBAL COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES
Tribal colleges and universities were founded in recognition of the tremendous importance of
postsecondary education to tribal economic development, cultural preservation and tribal sovereignty.
These institutions represent the most significant and successful development in American Indian
education history. There are over 30 tribal colleges and universities in the United States educating
over 26,000 American Indian students that represent over 200 American Indian tribes. Additional
information about these institutions can be found by contacting them directly.