Applications are now open for the Native Student Scholarship program at the University of Utah. The U is one of a growing number of institutions of higher education that now offer such scholarships, including the University of California system, the University of Arizona and Oregon State.
Under the initial launch, the Native Student Scholarship will meet undergraduate Native student tuition and mandatory fees not covered by scholarships and grants from all other sources. As additional private funding is raised, the university will expand the scholarship offering to assist Native Student Scholarship recipients in meeting their demonstrated financial need, with scholarships and grants from all sources.
“College is an overwhelming expense for many Native students and affordability becomes the main obstacle to completing a college degree,” said Samantha Eldridge, director, American Indian Resource Center.
Historically, many land-grant institutions have provided tuition waivers to Native students as part of their charters. The University of Utah is not a land-grant university, but university leaders have committed to removing obstacles for Native students as they begin their academic journeys. More importantly, entities such as the American Indian Resource Center help students build lasting connections as the foundation to support them through degree completion.
Members of the U community who would like to support the personal, social and academic development of Native students are encouraged to contribute to the Native Student Scholarship fund by donating here.
“The availability of this scholarship for our Native student population underscores the U’s commitment to providing access to higher education that can transform the lives of students across Utah,” said President Taylor Randall, who announced the program in July 2022 at the 16th Annual Governor’s Native American Summit.
Native undergraduate, degree-seeking students currently enrolled full-time at the University of Utah are the first eligible group who can apply for the Spring 2023 Semester scholarships. Enrollment data for the last five years indicates on average, 120 students self-identify as American Indian or Alaska Native each year.
Emails with application instructions will be sent to those students who have previously self-identified as American Indian. Any currently enrolled Native student who may not have previously self-identified should seek more information and can apply can apply starting Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2021, here.
The priority deadline for completed applications is Dec. 8, 2022. The application portal closes January 9, 2023.
Scholarships for Native students are vital to finding success at any college or university. In 2022 the National Native Scholarships Providers (NNSP) released its first-ever National Study on College Affordability for Indigenous Students. The report highlighted multiple barriers Native students face in pursuing higher education. The survey of Native students found that:
- 72 % of the current-student study participants reported running out of money at least once in the last six months.
- 67 % of current students reported being expected to contribute to family bills.
- Over half of the participants could not save any money before attending college.
- 50 % of the participants chose their institution based on the overall cost of attendance.
- 40 % of former students have accrued more than $10,000 of debt
- 16 % of current and former student study participants reported experiencing homelessness during their higher education.
- The top seven college costs that negatively impact participants’ education budgets are car maintenance, books, housing, food, gas, utilities, and a cell phone bill.
“The financial barriers Utah students face can be alleviated through continued investment in scholarships and tuition support. While tuition or financial assistance is not the sole solution, the university has an opportunity to ensure Native students realize their full academic potential and post-graduation success,” said Samantha Eldridge, director, American Indian Resource Center.
To qualify for the Native Student Scholarship, students must be enrolled full-time in a degree-seeking program at the University of Utah and be a resident of Utah or qualify for resident tuition rates. Eligible students must have a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) on file each academic year. The scholarship is renewable for up to eight semesters, as long as students continue to make satisfactory academic progress toward degree completion. Students also must be an enrolled member of one of the Utah’s tribes that are federally recognized for in-state tuition.
Utah’s recognized tribal nations include: Confederated Tribes of the Goshute Reservation, Navajo Nation (Diné), Northwestern Band of Shoshoni Nation of Utah (Washakie), Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah (Cedar City Band of Paiutes, Kanosh Band of Paiutes, Koosharem Band of Paiutes, Indian Peaks Band of Paiutes, and Shivwits Band of Paiutes), Skull Valley Band of Goshute Indians of Utah, Ute Indian Tribe of Uintah & Ouray Reservation, Ute Mountain Tribe of the Ute Mountain Reservation, San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe, Hopi, Zuni and Shoshone-Bannock.
High school students and those considering transferring to the University of Utah will be able to apply for the Native Student Scholarship for the Fall 2023 Semester beginning March 1, 2023. Scholarships recipients will be announced the summer of 2023, ahead of the start of the Fall Semester.
Scholarships are also available for Native students in need who may not be eligible for this new offering. Graduate students and members of non-federally recognized tribes are encouraged to connect with one or more of the following resources. American Indian Services, located in Lehi, Utah, is dedicated to helping Native Americans gain access to quality education while preserving their culture and honoring their heritage. The American Indian College Fund provides financial support for Native American students and tribal colleges and universities and also supports programs for institutional growth and sustainability and cultural preservation. And the Native Forward Scholars Fund has empowered over 20,000 students from over 500 tribes in all 50 states by providing scholarship dollars and support for services for undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees.