Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

The Great Seal of the Choctaw Nation
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Scholarship Advisement Program

For Further Information Contact:

Jo McDaniel
Program Director
Choctaw Scholarship Advisement Program
P: (800) 522-6170 - X - 2547
E: jomcdaniel@choctawnation.com

Choctaw Scholarship Advisement Program

Choctaws Launch Online Scholarship Database

Customized database gives CNO Scholars Online access to thousands of transportable scholarships.

CNO students are eligible for each scholarship

December, 2009 – The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma (CNO) has always believed strongly in education and was the first American Indian tribe to establish schools in Oklahoma. This August, the CNO will announce another Oklahoma Indian education “first,” according to Gregory E. Pyle, Chief of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.

The CNO is offering its students – and their parents – free online access to a unique Web based database of scholarship, loan, grant, award, and internship funding opportunities that has been custom-designed for CNO members. “Through a unique partnership arrangement with Reference Service Press, the nation’s leader in researching financial aid opportunities for diversity candidates, we firmly believe we are offering Choctaw students free access to the best possible scholarship database,” says Chief Pyle. “The database is customized for CNO students and parents. It will access thousands of transportable scholarships a student can take to any school. And CNO students are eligible for every scholarship in the database. I strongly urge all CNO college-bound students, graduate students, and their parents to take advantage of this program,” Chief Pyle adds.

Join the Scholarship Advisement Program, Then Email SAP for Free Database Access

Beginning in December 2009, CNO members can get free access to the Choctaw Scholarship Database on the CNO’s Scholarship Advisement Program (SAP) Internet Web site located at www.choctawnation-sap.com. To access the database, students or parents must first be enrolled in the CNO’s Scholarship Advisement Program. To enroll in SAP, just click the “Apply Online” link at SAP’s Web site. Enrollment in SAP is free to CNO members. To access the Scholarship Database students or parents enrolled in SAP should email the Scholarship Advisement Program at scholarshipdatabase@choctawnation.com for further instructions. CNO students and parents will use their own self-generated SAP program username and password to also access the scholarship database.

Why Scholarships Are Needed

The Choctaw Scholarship Advisement Program was created in late 2006 to help overcome consistently high Native American college dropout rates. SAP has two primary goals: Prepare students for college and, once enrolled, keep students on track for a college degree.

A recent (2008) report from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) underscores the drop-out rate problem and the role that financial pressures play on the drop-out rate for Native American students. At the same time, NCES’ report, Status and Trends in Education of American Indians, lists both good news and bad news for Native Americans seeking college degrees.

The good news is that 44 percent of American Indians age 25 or older had attended some college in 2007. Further, an encouraging trend has emerged: Indian enrollment in college has been increasing over time. In fact, Native American higher education enrollment has more than doubled in the past 30 years, according to the study.

But the bad news lies in the report’s second finding. Even though 44 percent had attempted college, only nine percent of American Indians age 25 or older had earned a bachelor’s degree as their highest level of educational attainment. While there are many reasons for the high dropout rate, lack of money continues to be one of the big contributors. In Oklahoma one of every three Native Americans lives below the poverty level, compared to one in six people in the state’s general population, says Oklahoma Indian Legal Services. And no matter what a student or family’s financial position, rising college costs (increasing at 5 to 8 percent a year, according to the non-profit CollegeBoard.com) means finding money for college is more important than ever.

“Helping students and parents find money for college is the most common – and pressing – request made of our program,” says SAP program Director Jo McDaniel. “It’s a question we deal with on a daily basis.” The scholarship database will go a long way toward helping our members meet their higher education financial needs, says McDaniel.

“The desire to attend college – and earn a degree – is strong among CNO’s top student scholars,” says Chief Pyle. “The proof lies in the growth in enrollment in our Scholarship Advisement Program.” In less than two years, the CNO’s Scholarship Advisement Program has enrolled nearly 2,000 students and parents and gets well over 1,000 visits a month to its web site.

Best Possible Scholarship Database Ingredients

A number of features make the Choctaw’s Scholarship database much different – and better – than anything else, according to SAP Director Jo McDaniel.

  • Unique Partnership with Reference Professionals – The engine powering the CNO’s scholarship database is provided by Reference Service Press (RSP), a California-based business born in 1975 from an idea of reference librarian Dr. Gail Schlachter (Ph.D./Library Science). Schlachter, who admits to being driven by a passion to identify and fill information needs, found just such an opportunity over 30 years ago for a largely ignored diversity segment: college-bound women.

Working nights and weekends for two years – and using the resources of the University of California library system – Schlachter collected and published the first reference book of its kind: The Directory of Financial Aids for Women. It was a collection of highly detailed descriptions of hundreds of funding programs representing millions of dollars – all set aside specifically for women. “The letters and comments I got told me the book changed women’s lives,” says Schlachter. It also created a business – Reference Service Press.

Over the next 30 plus years, Schlachter expanded upon her original idea. By hiring other reference librarians, RSP kept adding diversity and other specialized titles to its unique list of offerings. The company now publishes more than 25 financial aid directories for a wide variety of diversity and specialized segments of the population, including Financial Aid for Native Americans. RSP’s massive database of scholarships, loans, grants, awards, and internships has now grown to over 40,000 records and identifies billions of dollars in financial aid. This is the database that, through a unique arrangement, the CNO has tapped and RSP has customized for CNO college-bound students and parents.

  • Expertly Researched - Results Not Found Anywhere Else – The great majority of the listings in this database are not found anywhere else. These scholarships have been identified and verified by reference librarians using trained research skills. These scholarships aren’t found browsing the Web or on so-called free Internet scholarship sites. They’re found by people who know what they’re seeking – and how to find it.

  • No Spam Business Model – One hundred percent of RSP’s revenue comes from providing access to the best researched financial aid database for its specialized categories. RSP never sells personal information it collects from users. That information is used solely to make user searches more relevant. Compare RSP to the business model of so-called “Free” scholarship Web sites, where invasive pages-long questionnaires of personal preference information must be filled out before free access is granted. In that business model, “free access” to a database of (often marginal) opportunities means users must “opt-in” to allow their name and information to be sold to marketers anxious to fill inboxes and mailboxes with soup-to-nuts offers.

  • Transportable Scholarships – The vast majority (more than 90 percent) of the scholarships listed in the Choctaw Scholarship Database are completely transportable. The funds can be used at any college or university.

  • Uniform – Logical Arrangement of Information Fields – Each record in the Choctaw Scholarship Database provides the right actionable information. The field list for each record is as follows:

  • Program Title – Popular and official titles of scholarship, loan, grant, award, or internship
  • Sponsoring Organization – Name, address and phone number, toll-free number, fax number, e-mail address and Web site
  • Summary – Identifies the major program requirements
  • Eligibility – Qualifications required of applicants plus information on application procedures and the selection process
  • Financial Data – Financial details of the program, including funds offered, expenses for which funds may and may not be applied, and cash-related benefits supplied (e.g. room and board).
  • Duration – Period for which support is provided, renewal prospects
  • Additional Information – Any unusual (generally nonmonetary) benefits, features, restrictions, or limitations associated with the program
  • Number awarded – Total number of recipients each year or other specified period
  • Deadline – The month by which applications must be submitted.
  • Subject focus: Fields of study supported by the program
  • Where you can go: Where the money can be spent
  • Online links: To information about and applications for the funding program

  • Profile-based Query Structure – A database finds opportunities that suit you best when the database knows what you’re seeking. That’s why the Choctaw Scholarship Database first asks each user to fill out an online questionnaire. Completing the questionnaire helps target funding opportunities that match student and parent plans. By answering the questions, students and parents customize and narrow search criteria to create their own best-match list of scholarships, loans, grants, awards, and internships. The more questions students answer (some questions are required, but others are optional), the more precise and focused results will be. As students go through the questionnaire, they may not be exactly sure how to best respond. That’s why each question has a link to a page of tips to help students and parents best answer each question. Once the questionnaire is completed, students and parents can view their completed profile and edit or change any responses any time they wish.

  • Summary Search Results – A well filled-out questionnaire produces between 50 and 100 records that best mach the student’s profile. Search results are first displayed in a summary table that lets students quickly view key information to determine if they want to know more about the opportunity. The summary table lets students and parents read a brief overview of each opportunity, the award amount and the deadline for application. The title of the opportunity is a clickable link to the program’s complete report. A “save” button lets students or parents put any opportunity in a “favorites” list which students and parents may review any time.

Custom Designed for CNO Members: Database Identifies Free Money, Loans, and Internships Too

The CNO’s funding database doesn’t just list scholarships. The database is also rich in information on available awards, grants, loans, and internships. The database is updated constantly by RSP’s staff of reference librarians. With search rules custom designed specifically for the Choctaw Nation, the database of tens of thousands of funding opportunities will only produce opportunities for which CNO members are eligible and will automatically delete opportunities not available for CNO students.

Greatest Amount of Listings – Always Most Current Information

RSP’s reference books have long set the standard for financial aid reference books in U.S. libraries. But directly accessing the RSP online database is actually better than using a book. That’s because RSP edits/updates most of its more than 25 reference books on a two-year cycle. New opportunities posted after a book’s publication must necessarily wait for the next edition. But, not so with the CNO’s Scholarship Database, which is updated continually by Reference Service Press. As a result, CNO users searching the online database are assured of finding up-to-the-minute information on all types of funding opportunities available to them.

Scholarship Database Pic 1 Through a unique partnership arrangement with Reference Service Press, the nation’s leader in researching financial aid opportunities for diversity candidates, the CNO is offering its students – and their parents – free Web access to a unique Web based database of scholarship, loan, grant, award, and internship funding opportunities that has been custom-designed for CNO members.

Scholarship Database Pic 2 A database finds opportunities that suit you best when the database knows what you’re seeking. That’s why the Choctaw Scholarship Database first asks each user to fill out an online questionnaire. Completing the questionnaire helps target funding opportunities that match student and parent plans.

Scholarship Database Pic 3 As students go through the questionnaire they may not know how to respond. That’s why each question has links to a page of tips that help students and parents best answer each question.

Scholarship Database Pic 4 Once the questionnaire is completed, students and parents can view their completed profile and edit or change any responses any time they wish.

Scholarship Database Pic 5 A well filled-out questionnaire usually results in 50-100 opportunities that best match the student’s profile. Search results are first displayed in a summary table that lets students quickly view key information to determine if they want to know more about the opportunity.

Scholarship Database Pic 6 In the summary page the title of the opportunity is also a link to the complete record which lists all information available.

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