Native Americans have a long history of being under-represented in traditional American colleges and universities. Luckily, a large number of financial aid programs have been put into place to help redress this imbalance over the years. One of the financial aid programs that take into account the needs of Native Americans is the Navajo Nation Scholarship.
This guide provides a comprehensive explanation of the scholarship, its eligibility requirements, and the application procedures to help you through.
Navajo Nation Scholarship: An Overview
Navajo Nation Scholarship is a financial assistance program issued by the Office of Navajo Nation Scholarship & Financial Assistance (ONNSFA). Apart from awarding scholarships, ONNSFA also offers registered Navajo Nation members the opportunity to achieve their educational goals.
Also, formerly known as the Navajo Higher Education Office, ONNSFA was founded in 1972. Specifically, that was when the Navajo Nation entered a P.L. 93-638 contract with the Bureau of Indian Affairs to administer Higher Education Grants. Now, ONNSFA is part of the Department of Diné Education.
In 2018 alone, ONNSFA awarded more than $ 24 million in financial aid and scholarships to approximately 6,000 students seeking university degrees or certificates.
Basically, there are four different types of scholarships for undergraduate students, including:
- Financial Need-Based Award
- No Need-Based Award
- Chief Manuelito Scholarship
- Part-Time Undergraduate Award
Meanwhile, the following scholarships are available for postgraduate students:
- Graduate Award
- Part-Time Graduate Award
Below is a breakdown of the prizes for each of the scholarships:
- Financial Need-Based Award: $2,500 per term
- No Need Based-Award: $1,000 per term
- Chief Manuelito Scholarship: $3,500 per term
- Part-Time Undergraduate Award: Funding varies
- Graduate-Award: $2,500 to $5,000 per term
- Part-Time Graduate Award: Funding varies
You must meet certain qualifications to win a Navajo Nation Scholarship. However, the requirements differ for certain scholarships. Therefore, please refer to the list below to check the eligibility requirements for the scholarship of your choice.
1. Financial Need-Based Award
This funding is available for students who demonstrate financial need according to the Financial Need Analysis (FNA) form submitted on their behalf by the school of attendance.
Furthermore, students in this category must have insufficient personal or family resources to meet a college’s or university’s cost of attendance (e.g. tuition, books, and housing).
2. No Need-Based Award
This funding is available for students who have just enough resources to meet the cost of attendance at a college or university of their choice (e.g. tuition, books, and housing).
3. Chief Manuelito Scholarship
First of all, the qualifications for this merit-based scholarship include a high-grade point average and a commensurate ACT/SAT test score. Also, students are required to complete courses in Navajo Language (1 unit or 1+ college credit) and Navajo Government (1/2 unit or 1+ college credit) prior to graduation.
On the other hand, full-time undergraduate students may qualify for the Chief Manuelito Scholarship under the 24/3 rule by completing 24 credit hours of college-level courses with a 3.0 GPA.
In particular, the Chief Manuelito Scholarship is based upon the GPA of college-level courses. Thus, students seeking an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) or Certificate are ineligible. Also, the scholarship is non-renewable. Hence, students must re-apply each year for continued consideration.
4. Graduate Award
ONNSFA offers grant awards for Navajo students seeking graduate-level degrees. Specifically, graduate applicants shall pursue only one degree at the same level: a master’s degree, an educational terminal degree, or a doctorate’s degree.
Furthermore, full-time graduates or post-graduates must earn nine or more semester credit hours with a term grade point average of 3.00 or higher. Particularly, medical, veterinary, and law student applicants shall be a “full-time graduate applicant” and earn no less than a 2.00-grade point average or “passing” grade at the end of each academic term.
5. Part-Time Undergraduate Award & Graduate Award
All applicants must be admitted to a post-secondary institution accredited by one of six regional accrediting associations as recognized by the Navajo Nation:
- MSA (Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools)
- NCA (North Central Association of Colleges and Schools)
- NEASC (New England Association of Schools and Colleges)
- NWCCU (Northwest Commission on College/University)
- SACS (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools)
- WASC (Western Association of Schools and Colleges)
Besides, the appropriate accrediting association for highly specialized majors including, but not limited to, the National Architectural Accrediting Board for schools of architecture.
How to Apply Online for a Navajo Nation Scholarship
The online application for any of the scholarships within the Student Portal at www.onnsfa.org. Applicants can fill out the form in minutes. Then, follow the following step-by-step explanation to apply for the scholarship:
- First of all, go to onnsfa.org and click on “Apply Online.”
- Next, click on the Full-Time or Part-Time Application.
- Then, fill out the entire form including your Social Security Number, Census Number, and the Navajo Nation Chapter you are affiliated with.
- Carefully review the information you entered.
- Lastly, make sure to submit the application once to avoid filing multiple applications. Submitting inaccurate information or multiple online applications will delay processing time.
However, you also need to prepare the following documents in advance before applying:
- Certificate of Indian Blood
- Official Transcripts
- Financial Need Analysis
- Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
- Letter of Admission
- Graduation/degree checklist
- Course registration
You may upload the following documents in .PDF format to your student account in the Student Portal:
- Letter of Admission
- Graduation/degree checklist
- Course registration
Meanwhile, you must mail or hand-carry all other documents to an agency office.
How to Check Your Application Status
To check your application status, you must:
- Access the Student Portal at onnsfa.org.
- Click on “Check My Document Status.”
- Enter your username and password.
Access your student account for a list of received/outstanding documents and retrieve award or denial notices when ONNSFA counselors render a decision on your application. Most importantly, please note that documents submitted to ONNSFA will be posted to your student account within two to three business days.
Application Form for Navajo Nation Scholarship
Click here to download your application form. In addition, you will also be asked to download several other forms to help you complete your application:
- Chapter Affiliation (PDF)
- Chief Manuelito Scholarship (PDF)
- Checklist – Full-Time Applicants (PDF)
- Checklist – Part-Time Applicants (PDF)
- Dissertation Cost Verification Form (PDF)
- Financial Need Analysis (PDF)
- ONNSFA Appeal Form (PDF)
- ONNSFA Policies and Procedures (PDF)
- Request for Official CIB* (PDF)
Note: The “Request for Official CIB” form is for Navajo Nation Scholarship use only.
ONNSFA opens its online application twice a year:
- March 15th for the Fall and academic year, closing on June 25th.
- September 25th for the Winter/Spring term, closing on November 25th.
Therefore, you need to submit your online application and all required documents by the deadlines above.
If you have any inquiries regarding the program, send electronic transcripts to your agency office using one of the following email addresses:
- Chinle Agency: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Crownpoint Agency: email@example.com
- Fort Defiance Agency: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Shiprock Agency: email@example.com
- Tuba City Agency: firstname.lastname@example.org
Additionally, you can also find ONNSFA on Facebook. Click here to visit its official Facebook page.
Ultimately, you can find the latest information on the Navajo Nation Scholarship on the official ONNSFA website at www.onnsfa.org. Alternatively, you can also bookmark this webpage to get the latest updates on this financial aid or other scholarships, for starters:
- 9 Best Scholarships for Native Americans
- 11 Best Scholarships for Papua New Guinea Students to Apply for
- 10 Great DACA Scholarships for Undocumented Students