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High Retention for Scholars

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Retention rates for AIEF scholarship recipients is typically 95% or higher than the national norm of 69%
for Native students.

Learn more about Scholarships...
Twenty-eight percent of Native American students do not graduate from high school, compared to a national average of 15%. And only 42% pursue any form of education beyond high school, compared to a national average of 53%.
[ Source: www.collegefund.org/news/factsheets.html ]

For those who make it to college, retention is the next challenge. Typically, only about 20% of Native Americans who start college complete their first year, because of the tremendous culture shock, academic challenges, and financial strain. That’s why AIEF offers much more than just funding.

The Native American students that AIEF selects for scholarships stay in college. Retention rates for these scholars is typically 95% or higher. This is compared to the national norm of 69% for Native students. And it doesn’t happen by accident. It happens by AIEF strategy and the wealth of wisdom brought by the AIEF Scholarship Selection Committee.
[ Source: www.evergreen.edu/, table on pg 3 of PDF.]

AIEF has set criteria for recruiting undergraduate Native American students. They look for ACT scores that range from 14 to 24 and/or GPAs that range from 2.0 to 3.5. The students also need to be living (or have lived) on a reservation in one of AIEF’s priority areas, or in a BIA boarding school. Students who meet these criteria are eligible to apply for AIEF scholarships.

Preliminary Screens
The applicants are then preliminarily screened for objective criteria. This is done by AIEF and objective readers with backgrounds in education. The objective criteria are: students must be Native American, show documentation of tribal enrollment (or a parent’s enrollment), and show transcripts with their ACT and GPA scores. The application package needs to be complete and submitted by the deadline, and students must already be accepted to a university, college, or technical school as a full-time, undergraduate student.

Other “subjective” or nonfactual screens relate to goals, passion, and limitation or access. Readers look for students with realistic goals and a plan to pay for them; students who exhibit passion, resiliency, and leadership qualities; nontraditional students (meaning older, married, or with children); students whose essays tell a story, often one where they overcame obstacles; and students with solid past performance and future goals. AIEF also designates priority states for scholarships, because there may be greater limitation or lack of access to education. It distributes its scholarships equally in the Plains and Southwest in these priority states. AIEF also awards scholarships to students in Alaska and other states.

Scoring by the Committee
Applicants who make it this far in the process then go through a second stage of screening, where their packages are scored by the AIEF scholarship committee. The committee has certain criteria that they use to review each application.

The AIEF process works because of the richness of the scholarship committee’s experience, the diversity of approaches to selecting students, the students’ own desire to succeed, and AIEF mentoring once they are in college.

AIEF staff and Selection Committee members provide one-on-one mentoring for scholarship recipients throughout the year. Students receive regular “care packages” of school supplies, household goods, prepaid calling cards, and holiday gifts. When needed, AIEF can arrange for tutoring and other emergency assistance.

All of this adds up to high retention for AIEF scholars.

AIEF Scholarship Committee
AIEF's Scholarship Committee members volunteer their time to help Native American students attain the dream of higher education.

Learn more about the
Committee members...