Graduation Rates & American Indian Education

Reality:  By today’s standards, about 7 in 10 of the American Indian students who start kindergarten will graduate from high school.

Put another way, the average freshman graduation rate for Native students who will complete public high school within 4 years of the first time they start 9th grade is 70 percent, compared to a national average of 82 percent, according to NCES (the National Center for Education Statistics, 2012-13 data). This excludes BIE (Bureau of Indian Education) schools, which are federally underfunded and produce the lowest educational attainment levels. US News reports that the national Native high school graduation rate is 69 percent across all types of schools – but the BIE school graduation rate is only 53 percent. BIE schools serve eight percent of Native American students, or 48,000 students in 24 states.

Reality:  More than 60% of U.S. high school students go on to college, while only 17% of American Indian students are able to continue their education after high school, facing a number of challenges the average student does not encounter.

Lack of funding and resources paired with geographic isolation contribute to the reality that many Native students have trouble moving on to college. Lack of cultural inclusion in off-reservation schools is also a factor — consider the inaccuracies taught in U.S. history classes about Christopher Columbus, the pilgrims, and the founding fathers.

Reality:  While 28 percent of Americans complete college, only 13 percent of Native Americans hold a college degree.

From elementary to post-secondary school, 35 percent of Native youth grow up in impoverishment. Life without a college degree can often mean hardship and lost opportunity. Four-year college grads earn $1 million more in a lifetime, and two-year college grads earn $10,000 more per year than someone who only graduates high school.

Education is an important cornerstone for self-sufficiency and quality of life. For every scholarship we are able to award through AIEF (American Indian Education Fund), a program of Partnership With Native Americans, there is another qualified student wanting to attend college and waiting for funding.

Dante’ is an honor roll student from Alaska, of Yupik Eskimo, Athabascan Indian, and Native Hawaiian heritage, and was awarded an AIEF scholarship. He enjoys playing sports and is an excellent student with a dream of a college education. Already, Dante’ is serving his tribal community by meeting with lawmakers about cleaning up contaminated lands and waters for the future generations and participating in Alaska Native and Hawaiian cultural traditions.

Dante’ shares, “I believe in hard work! I have worked hard to prepare myself for college and for a productive life.” He has also held several jobs, including at a ski area, a car dealership and the Alaska Native Village Corporation on the way to making his dream a reality.

All AIEF services are paid for through contributions from compassionate individuals across the United States. We encourage you to join them in supporting a brighter future for students like Dante’ through the American Indian Education Fund. Learn more at

1 Comment

Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *