I am a sophomore in high school, and I really want to go to college. How do I save for it?

Alex, it’s awesome that you are thinking about how to cover your college costs right now. Auntie gives you an A+ for initiative! These tips will help you on your way:

First, if you don’t have one already, get a job. Duh, I know. But getting a job when you are in high school is super helpful for saving for college. Every little bit you save helps. If transportation is an issue, you can work close to home - maybe somewhere you can walk, bike, or ride the bus to. If you live in a super rural place and can’t transport yourself to many places, you could post fliers offering to do yard work, child care, or other services.

So now you’ve got a job, but the trick is actually saving the money you earn. This can be tough. To learn more about how to save, go to a bank or credit union in your town with your parents or caregiver. Ask to talk with a customer service representative about saving for college. They can describe the different kinds of accounts you can deposit the money you earn into and talk to you about different savings plans offered. Most have accounts designed specifically for people trying to save for school.

Third, call the financial aid office at a nearby college to learn how most people pay for school. In my experience, most people who go to college receive some sort of financial aid for school. The majority apply for grants, loans and scholarships. Ask the financial aid officer about these and ask if they can refer you to any good websites so you can learn more.

Forth, email or call the American Indian Student Services or the Office of Minority Student Affairs - or something similar - at a college or university close by. They will know (or can connect you with people) who will know about certain scholarships or grants you are eligible for. Also, talk to people in the education department at your tribe or counselors at your high school to learn more about grants, loans, and scholarships your community may offer you for school.

Finally, Alex, check out the scholarships listed by the Center for Native American Youth. Even though you won’t need to apply for them until your senior year, it’s a good idea to learn what’s out there and make a list of the scholarships you’d like to apply for in the future. Write down their approximate deadlines, so you’ll have an idea about when you’ll need to start the application process.

Lots of luck Alex!
You are on your way, Auntie