Native Scholars 101


Congratulations! You are taking a bold step into the next chapter of your academic career. This will be a chapter filled with great reward and much focused work; you can do it!

Here are some tips as you begin your graduate school journey.

  • Start planning early, preferably a year before you plan to enroll. This will give you time to read about the school, visit the campus, apply for admissions, and get your financial aid in place. The grant programs that are available to graduate students are different from those for undergraduate students. Still, help is available. A good place to start is by visiting Let your professors know that you will be going to grad school; they might know of valuable scholarship or grant programs. Also, using the Researching Colleges Form may be helpful.
  • Consider the school’s reputation, cost, and climate. Web sites such as can help you research prospective colleges.
  • If you took out a loan as an undergraduate, find out if the loan can be deferred. Depending on the type of loan, you may be able to delay making student loan payments if you attend graduate school. Someone in your college’s financial aid office can help you find out about deferments.
  • Find out if your college credits will transfer to the graduate school you’ve selected. Your current advisor can go over your transcripts and determine which credits will transfer. Remember, schools can vary widely on their policies for accepting credits from other institutions. It’s best to research this before you arrive at your new school.


Transition in this stage of life is among the most unique; you may be balancing a family, job, and multiple side projects during this chapter.

It is important to set priorities, manage your time effectively to get the most out of your graduate school experience.


Time Management

You’re probably pretty good at managing your time by now, but these skills are more important than ever to successfully juggle you school and life obligations.

Here are a few articles that can help you build on your current time management skills:

See more tips for Time Management here.

Financial Literacy

Students generally find that graduate school is an entirely different beast when it comes to managing finances. Take some time to go through our Common Cents page to review tips on budgeting, credit, and managing debt.


Graduate school does not often cater to self-care. The long hours and intense focus required to make it thought is taxing on the body, mind, and spirit.

It’s important to check in with yourself regularly and listen to your body; take breaks, reach out to family and friends, keep hobbies, and practice something that calms you (meditation, prayer, yoga, etc.)

See our page dedicated to Self-Care to learn more.


Mentorship can be especially beneficial as you move through your graduate journey. Make time to cultivate relationships with veterans in your field of interest and join professional organizations. In this phase of your education you will need different things than you needed as a younger student. So think deeply about what you may need as you complete your degree and launch your career.

Mentorship can be especially beneficial as you make important decisions about your future. Make time to cultivate relationships with professors, upper classmen and it’s not too early to join professional organizations.

Giving Back

Giving back may look differently now as it did when you were in high school but it is nonetheless an important practice to cultivate throughout your adulthood. Explore ideas and reasons for giving back on our page here.

Paying For School

Congratulations on making the wise decision to attend graduate school. This is the first step in making better decisions for yourself, your family, and your future.

In-State Versus Out-of-State Tuition

State (public) colleges and universities get the money they need to operate from tuition and from taxes paid by state residents. So, students within that state pay a lower cost. Because out-of-state students haven’t been paying tax dollars into that state, they are charged more through tuition.

These colleges also may have a lower price tag to entice graduates to stay in that state. College graduates are more likely to have good jobs, pay taxes, and contribute to the state’s economy.

Tips for scholarship searching

  • Start narrow
  • Red flags: Fees, Contest-style scholarships
  • Ask around: Tribal Ed office, Financial Aid office of your new and current school, etc.

If you are attending graduate school at a mainstream school, don’t forget that you can still apply for our Full Circle Scholarship program- learn more here and then continue your scholarship search on our Additional Scholarship Resources page, which includes links to sites like the American Indian Graduate Center.

If you have student loans, make sure that you have requested deferment during your time at graduate school.

Committing to College & Career

Study Tips

(can be similar language to other pages but needs to focus on graduate students where possible/applicable)

Academic Planning

To learn which classes you need to complete your choice of study, be sure to have regular meetings with your academic advisor. This will help mitigate common errors of taking too many electives, not enough, or missing a core class that is offered irregularly.

Professional Development

This is the time to explore if/what professional tests need to be taken in order to practice your field after graduation.

Fellowships and employment opportunities are also on the docket, so explore our Career Center for all of these resources and more.

Free online video resource: FATV 

FATV is a free online resource to help answer your financial aid questions through brief videos. This may be especially helpful if you’re entering a mainstream school with federal and private loan options. Knowledge is power!