American Indian Graduate Center Scholar

Affording college is a lot easier than you might think but it requires time, patience, and focus.  The resources below will give you the tools you need to start a college budget, fill out your FAFSA, and manage your income.

Please sit back, take notes, and enjoy these informational presentations.

Play Video


Understanding financial aid is crucial to your college experience. No one likes worrying about tuition and wondering if you will have enough money to pay for your classes.  In the video above, you will learn:

  • What is financial aid?
  • Cost of Attendance (COA)
  • Expected Family Contribution (EFC)
  • Financial Need
  • Types of financial aid
  • The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)


1. Complete the FAFSA. 
Start by visiting the FAFSA website, set up your personal Federal Student Aid ID (FSA ID) to access, complete, and submit the FAFSA.  The FAFSA will determine if you are eligible for federal grants, state aid, institutional aid, federal work-study programs and federal direct loans.
2. Apply for scholarships. 
There are a number of different scholarship sources:
  • Tribal Education departments
  • Tribal Foundations
  • Private scholarships
  • Civic organizations
  • University scholarships (Most universities will have scholarships you may be eligible for based off of your college application)
  • Native American and Indigenous scholarships
  • Scholarship search engines (Set up a profile with scholarship search engines such as
As the Center for Native Scholarships, AIGC offers a number of different opportunities.
See the opportunities AIGC has to offer HERE.
3. Estimate and compare your total costs. 
Research the institutions you are interested in for their Cost of Attendance breakdown.  The COA will vary between the types of colleges.  Most universities will have an estimated Cost of Attendance on their financial aid website.
4. Determine if you need additional money.
To determine if you need additional aid, use the following formula:
COA – EFC – Financial Aid/Gift Aid = Unmet Need
Cost of Attendance (COA)
Expected Family Contribution (EFC is the amount the family is expected to contribute to their student’s education based on their FAFSA. Some institutions may be able to cover the EFC with outside resources.)  
Financial Aid/Gift Aid (Money you do not have to pay back)
Unmet Need (The amount NOT covered by financial aid awards that is the student and family’s responsibility to pay or that can be covered by outside resources) 

5. Explore additional financing options.
If you have an Unmet Need, you can explore different financing options such as:

  • Other available scholarship opportunities
  • Work-study programs
  • Off-campus employment
  • Federal student loans
  • Private loans

Most financial aid institutions will offer you the maximum amount of student loans that you qualify for, but you don’t have to accept the full amount.

Play Video


Financial aid resources are not all the same. Understanding the various types of financial aid will help you determine what sources you will need during your academic journey through college.  In the video above, you will learn:

  • How do scholarships work?
  • Where do I find scholarships?
  • What’s out there for students?
  • Scholarship tips & Resources.
  • Different types of scholarships.


How do scholarships work?

There are two basic types of scholarships: Need-based & Merit-based scholarships.
Need-based scholarships are awarded based on your financial need.
Merit-based scholarships are awarded based on your talents, leadership, community service, honors, awards, and are not directly tied to your financial need.

Where do I find scholarships?
Below are some great places to begin your scholarship search.

  • Tribal Education departments
  • Tribal Foundations
  • Private scholarships
  • Civic organizations
  • University scholarships (Most universities will have scholarships you may be eligible for based off of your college application)
  • Native American and Indigenous scholarships
  • Scholarship search engines (Set up a profile with scholarship search engines such as

Scholarship tips & resources

  • Make sure to dedicate time every week to your scholarship search.
  • Apply for every eligible opportunity, regardless of the award amount. Remember that small amounts add up.
  • Keep applying.  Scholarships are not limited to incoming freshman.
  • Remember that not all scholarships are renewable so keep searching for new scholarships every year.
  • You don’t need a 4.0 GPA to apply for a scholarship.  Most scholarships may also consider your school, community, and tribal involvement.
  • Keep a record of all your awards, leadership roles, community service, and tribal involvement.
  • Make sure to proofread and edit the scholarship application before submitting.

Scholarships come in a variety of award amounts. We encourage you to apply for the large-dollar scholarships but remember that there are THOUSANDS of smaller award opportunities that receive far fewer applicants.

Play Video


Applying for scholarships can seem intimidating but taking the steps to organize your documents and requirements beforehand will make the whole process a lot easier. In the video above, you will learn:

  • The Personal Profile
  • Scholarship Application Timeline
  • Sample Essay Prompts


The personal profile

  • Your academic record
  • Words that describe who you are
  • Your activities by high school year
  • Extracurricular
  • College Prep
  • Community Service
  • Leadership roles
  • Tribal involvement

Scholarship application timeline

  • Research scholarships
  • Prioritize scholarship applications by the deadline
  • Review the eligibility criteria
  • Choose your nominator/recommender early and select an individual who knows you well.
  • Review materials prior to submitting – have another person proofread your work.
  • Complete and submit applications before each deadline.
  • Follow up with scholarship organizations to ensure your application is complete and received.
  • Be sure to write a thank-you note for your scholarship provider as well as your nominator/recommender.

Sample essay prompts

The resource below is designed to help you prepare for various writing prompts you may encounter during the application process.


Let’s discuss the most daunting aspect of college–COST. Attending college is no small task and requires a reliable funding source such as federal financial aid, scholarships, or student loans. By making the decision to attend college and earn your degree, you are setting yourself up for a successful future.  Studies demonstrate how a higher education relates to a higher-paying career.  Receiving a four-year degree significantly increases your average income and reduces the likelihood of unemployment.

There are many variables that will ultimately decide how much your education is going to cost. For a comprehensive overview of how much college will cost, check out the U.S. Department of Education’s College Affordability and Transparency Center. This online center is filled with resources and information to support as you navigate the financial planning process.  

You deserve an education and we are here to help.

Wells Fargo

Student Resources Partner