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USDA Offers Tribal Students Career-Track Scholarships in Agriculture

WASHINGTON, Dec. 16, 2019 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the opening of the 2020 scholarship application cycle for the USDA 1994 Tribal Scholars Program. The program aims to increase the number of tribal college and university students studying agriculture, food, natural resource sciences, and other agriculture-related disciplines. The program is available through the USDA Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement (OPPE).

The USDA 1994 Tribal Scholars Program was established in 2008 in partnership between the U.S. Department of Agriculture and 1994 institutions, tribally controlled colleges and universities with land-grant status. The program provides full tuition, fees, books, and workforce training to students pursuing degrees in agriculture, food, natural resource sciences, or related academic disciplines. When the student has completed the academic and summer work requirements of the scholarship, USDA may convert the student to a permanent employee without further competition.

“The USDA 1994 Tribal Scholars Program is an important way to collaborate with Indian Country and its tribal colleges and universities. Together we can train the workforce for 21st century agriculture and promote tribal agriculture,” said Mike Beatty, Director of USDA’s Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement.

This program is among several USDA efforts to build the capacities of 1994 institutions. Since the passage of the Equity in Educational Land-Grant Status Act of 1994 and the Federal Agriculture Improvement Act of 1996, USDA has supported scholarships, research, education, extension activities, and grants for facilities and equipment at these institutions.

Tribal colleges and universities (aka “1994s”) play a significant role among tribal nations. These institutions serve as anchors in their communities, advance tribal health, promote economic opportunity, further environmental conservation, and prepare young people for the workforce. In addition to offering the distinctive land-grant mix of research, education and extension, they also frame that education in the context of Native American history, indigenous knowledge, and traditions. Today there are 36 federally recognized tribal colleges and universities designated as land-grants.

The USDA 1994 Tribal Scholars Program is available to high school seniors entering their freshman year of college, and current freshman, sophomore, or juniors. General requirements include U.S. citizenship, a GPA of 3.0 or higher, and acceptance to, or currently attending a 1994 institution to study agriculture, food, and natural resources. The scholarship is renewable each year and is contingent on satisfactory academic performance and normal progress toward an associates or a bachelor’s degree. Additional requirements are listed in the application package.

All application materials must be postmarked by February 09, 2020. See the high school application (PDF, 577 KB) and the college application (PDF, 592 KB) for details. For other questions, email

About the USDA Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement

USDA’s Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement develops and maintains partnerships focused on solutions to challenges facing rural and underserved communities in the United States, connecting those communities to the education, tools, and resources available to them through USDA programs and initiatives.


USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.