American Indian College Fund provides variety of financial assistance
OKMULGEE, Oklahoma — School is out for most but is also right around the corner.
It is fairly common knowledge there are many higher education financial aid opportunities for Native Americans but have you heard about the American Indian College Fund?
In a ‘Mvskoke Radio’ interview with Gary Fife, AICF Transfer Program Coordinator Leia Fish said the organization administers aid sponsored through other entities and also offers a variety of their own programs.
“They can go from $10,000 all the way down to $500 and so it really depends on the donor I guess,” she said
Fish said the two biggest opportunities they offer are the Tribal Colleges and Universities Scholarship, which is given to tribal institutions to provide to their students and the Full Circle that AICF awards directly.
She said the Full Circle is also available for high school students who are headed to college. The deadline for the fall semester offering was May 31 but will open up Jan. 1 of next year and there are other opportunities.
Fish said she works for a program called Native Pathways to College.
“So basically what I do is coach and mentor tribal college students through their two-year education at their TCU and then I help them transition into four-year institutions to get their bachelor’s degree,” she said.
She said AICF provided 6,500 scholarships to more than 32 institutions nationwide last year, a portion of which was offered through mainstream institutions for a total of $7.6 million in aid.
“We’re working to increase the number of educated American Indians with college degrees,” Fish said.
Fish said only 14 percent of American Indians have a degree and part of their mission is to have graduates help their tribes.
“Make sure that our Native people are educated so they can go home and be directors for these tribal programs and tribal lawyers and all that good stuff,” she said.
She said the interest areas of their applicants are broad.
“We have a lot of students that are in a health profession field because they want to go back and we need more Native nurses and Native doctors to provide the care our people need,” Fish said.
Fish said the political climate has caused an increase in advocacy-based careers.
“And so we have students like that and then we also have like with the No DAPL movement, a lot students, I’ve seen a lot of students enroll in sustainability type programs,” she said.
Fish said she turned her life around through higher education after initially dropping out of school.
“I went through the system; I got my job,” she said. “I got a job now that I love and so education does pay off and I’m a big advocate for tribal colleges.”
For more information visit: www.collegefund.org