Tribal Colleges and Student Loans

Most tribal colleges do not participate in the federal student loan programs. They prefer to help their students keep costs down with low tuition and fees, and by enabling students to live at home while attending college. Tribal colleges are also very active in helping students obtain grants and scholarships that do not have to be repaid. This approach is a huge financial benefit for students.

Applying for
Tribal Assistance

Applying for financial aid from your tribe also requires filling out paperwork and meeting deadlines. Contact your tribe as early as possible about the process you need to follow. Some tribes begin considering applications January 1 for the fall semester. The first students in line for financial aid have the best chance of receiving help.

You may need to provide the following documents:

  • Certificate of Degree of Indian blood.
  • Tribal enrollment.
  • High school transcripts, GED score, or grades or transcripts from a previous college semester.
  • Letter(s) of acceptance from your college or university.
  • Financial needs analysis from the college(s); this must be sent by the college's financial aid office.

Keep a copy of any forms you submit to your tribe. Ask when you can expect to hear from them, and mark the date on your calendar. Most likely, you will receive a letter from the tribe notifying you of its award decision. The tribe also will send this information to the college(s) you plan to attend. However, if you do not hear by the date promised, contact your tribe. Ask where they are in the process of reviewing your application.