Health Professions Scholarship Program

To provide scholarships to American Indians and Alaska Natives at health professions schools in order to obtain health professionals to serve Indians.

Upon completion, scholarship recipients are obligated to serve in the Indian Health Service or an Indian health organization for each year of support
with a minimum of 2 years.
Related Programs

Examples of Funded Projects

In fiscal year 2005, there were 274 scholarships awarded to students in the following categories: nursing, medicine, medical technology, health administration, x-ray technology, optometry, dentistry, pharmacy, dental hygiene, dietetics, masters of public health, health education, chemical dependency counseling, health records, engineering, physician assistant, sanitation, and physical therapy.

Agency - Department of Health and Human Services

The Department of Health and Human Services is the Federal government's principal agency for protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services, especially to those who are least able to help themselves.

Office - See Appendix IV of the Catalog for Indian Health Service Area Program Offices.
Website Address

Program Accomplishments

In fiscal year 2006, approximately 78 new and 196 continuing scholarships were awarded. Approximately the same number of awards will be funded in fiscal years 2007 and 2008.

Uses and Use Restrictions

Scholarships support students who pursue full-time or part-time courses of study in health professions needed by the Indian Health Service (IHS).

Disciplines have included allopathic and osteopathic medicine, dentistry, nursing (baccalaureate and graduate), public health nutrition (graduate), medical social work (graduate), speech pathology/audiology (graduate), optometry, pharmacology and health care administration.

Not all disciplines participate each year.

Scholarships may not be awarded to students who have conflicting service obligations after graduation or who are not enrolled members of Federally-recognized tribes.

Recipients are required to perform 1 year of obligated service for each year of scholarship support, with a minimum obligation of 2 years in the Indian Health Service, or in a program conducted under a contract entered into under the Indian Self-Determination Act; or in an Indian health organization assisted under Title V of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act; or in private practice in a Health Manpower Shortage Area which addresses the health care needs of a substantial number of Indians.

Deferment for internship, residency, or other advanced clinical training for medical, osteopathy, and dental students is generally not to exceed 3 years, consistent with the specialty needs of the IHS.

Currently, 4-year deferments may be granted for obstetrics- gynecology and psychiatry residencies.

Eligibility Requirements

Applicant Eligibility

Individuals of American Indian or Alaska Native who are enrolled members of a Federally-recognized tribe are eligible.

Applicants for new awards: (1) must be accepted by an accredited U.S.

educational institution for a full-time or part-time course of study leading to a degree in medicine, osteopathy, dentistry, or other participating health profession which is deemed necessary by the Indian Health Service; (2) be eligible for or hold an appointment as a Commissioned Officer in the Regular or Reserve Corps of the Public Health Service; or (3) be eligible for civil service in the Indian Health Service.

Beneficiary Eligibility

Individuals of American Indian or Alaska Native who are enrolled members of Federally-recognized tribe; full-time students of medicine or other health professions; prospective or currently Commissioned Officers in the Regular or Reserve Corps of the Public Health Service; and eligible civilians of the Indian Health Service.


Students claiming Indian priority must submit proper certification and documentation as specified in the application. All applicants must provide transcripts of their latest academic work. All incoming freshmen are to provide copies of acceptance letters for enrollment in school.

Aplication and Award Process

Preapplication Coordination

Preapplication coordination is not required.

This program is excluded from coverage under E.O.


Application Procedures

Application forms and instructions are provided by the Indian Health Service Scholarship Program, acting through the IHS Area offices.

Award Procedures

Priority will be given to applicants who are prior recipients. Special consideration is given to junior and senior level students whose specialty plans are in primary care fields. Criteria which determine competitive ranking fawards may include: (1) work experience, preferably health-related in communities of health care need; (2) personal background from a community of health care need; (3) career goals of primary care practice in service to Indians; and, (4) academic performance. Student financial need does not affect selection.


Contact IHS Area offices for application deadlines. New applications are available to interested individuals usually in February with a submission deadline of April 1.


Indian Health Care Amendments of 1988, Section 104.

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time

Applicants notified by July 31.




Continuation applications must be submitted annually. Continued funding subject to availability of funds and satisfactory performance.

Assistance Considerations

Formula and Matching Requirements

This program has no statutory formula or matching requirements.

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance

Tuition payments and fees are paid upon receipt of invoices from the universities. Stipend payments are paid monthly for the 12-month academic period. An amount for books and other necessary expenses is provided to the student. Maximum length of funding is a total of 4 years.

Post Assistance Requirements


Students are required to submit of their official transcripts as they are received.

In addition, recipients must submit initial and mid-term progress reports on forms supplied by IHS.

Annual reports are required from schools indicating average student educational expense.


Not applicable.


The Indian Health Service Scholarship Program, maintains records for 7 years following completion of obligated service or other disposition of the scholarship obligation.

Financial Information

Account Identification



(Grants) FY 07 $9,603,857; FY 08 $9,603,857; and FY 09 est not available.

Range and Average of Financial Assistance

$24,128 to $38,222; $24,694.

Regulations, Guidelines, and Literature

42 CFR 36.330-36.334. Final rules and regulations, the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, Public Law 94-437, published in the Federal Register on November 18, 1977.

Information Contacts

Regional or Local Office

See Appendix IV of the Catalog for Indian Health Service Area Program Offices.

Headquarters Office

Program Contact: Ms. Pat Lee-McCoy, IHS Scholarship Program, Division of Health Professions Support, Indian Health Service, 801 Thompson Avenue, Suite 120, Rockville, MD 20852. Telephone: (301) 443-6197. Grants Management Contact: Ms. Kimberly Pendleton, Senior Grants Management Officer, Division of Grants Operations, Indian Health Service, 801 Thompson Avenue, TMP, Suite 360, Rockville, MD 20852. Telephone: (301) 443-5204. Use the same numbers for FTS.

Criteria for Selecting Proposals

(1) Academic performance; (2) faculty recommendations; (3) stated reasons for asking for the scholarship; (4) goals of the individual; and (5) the relative needs of the IHS and Indian health organizations for persons in specific health professions.

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