Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Do I have to reapply at each application deadline?

This answer depends on the term you were awarded – check your award letter!

Many applicants choose to apply at the June 30 deadline for the entire academic year — if awarded for the whole year, you do not need to reapply at the December 31 deadline, but you do need to turn in mid-year documents to remain in good standing.

Some applicants apply on June 30 for only the fall term — you must reapply at the December 31 deadline to be considered for additional funding for the winter and/or spring term(s).

Vocational training grants are capped per calendar year; if your training starts in one calendar year and ends in another, you must re-apply to be considered for additional funding.

Still have questions? Please give us a call! We’re happy to speak with you and can provide you with a more personalized answer to help you figure out the best plan for when to apply. 

What is the difference between a scholarship and a grant?

  • General Scholarship Awards are for full-time or part-time students in a degree program at an accredited school or university.
  • Vocational Training Grants are for students enrolled in an accredited vocational-technical skills program for which a certificate of completion or professional license is issued.
  • Fellowships are a type of grant for professional or individual cultural development. These may apply to conferences, non-credit courses, or licensing fees.

Please go to scholarships  or vocational training for more information about  The CIRI Foundation programs.

I missed the application deadline for a scholarship or grant - can I still apply?

No, TCF policies and procedures do not allow applications received after the deadline to be considered.

However, the good news is that the next deadline is less than six months away for scholarship applicants and less than three months away for vocational training grant applicants. You can also download the Education Resource Handbook. The resource contains many other funding opportunities for Alaska Native students with deadlines throughout the year.

TCF Applications open approximately 30 days before each deadline, but you may set up a user account and add supplemental documents anytime.

What is my lifetime limit?

The CIRI Foundation (TCF) has implemented a Lifetime Award Limit Policy. This policy will help ensure that all CIRI original enrollees and their lineal descendants have an opportunity to benefit from the support of TCF.

The policy means TCF applicants have a lifetime limit amount for each degree-level category. Scholarships from other organizations that TCF administers do not count toward your lifetime limit. Log in to your Student Profile to check your lifetime award limit amount and how much funding you have used.

Applicants must meet all of TCF’s funding requirements to be considered. All awards are subject to available funding. The policy took effect on January 1, 2014, and all awards approved after that will be included in an applicant’s lifetime award limit amount. An additional update to the policy took effect on March 1, 2019, regarding an increase to the lifetime award limit amount for each degree level due to the rise in the general scholarship and vocational training grant award amounts. As of  May 1, 2022, all Raven Fund applicants are subject to the same lifetime award limit policy.

The policy is as follows:

Have questions? Contact a TCF team member at tcf@thecirifoundation.org or call (907) 793-3575.

How does TCF internship support work?

  • The CIRI Foundation (TCF) offers internship support by matching a portion of the intern’s salary (usually 50% of an entry-level position salary per contract).
  • However, TCF does not match interns with organizations. Students should line up an internship and then apply for support from TCF.
  • Intern applications are accepted throughout the year and considered for the next funding deadline. Therefore, March 31 is likely the best deadline for summer internship applications.

You can read more about this program and download the internship application from the Internships page. If you have questions about intern support, please give us a call and ask to speak with the Administrative Coordinator.

Please note that internship support is separate from TCF’s in-house intern. Please call us if you want to intern with TCF in the office over the summer.

What is accreditation?

Educational accreditation is a quality assurance process under which educational institutions’ or programs’ services and operations are evaluated by an external body to determine if applicable standards are met. If the criteria are met, accredited status is granted by the appropriate agency.

You can see if your school is accredited for colleges and universities by visiting The U.S. Department of Education: www.ed.gov/accreditation. You can also look for accredited schools in your area.

The U.S. Department of Education does not accredit educational institutions and programs. However, the Department of Education oversees the postsecondary accreditation system by reviewing all federally-recognized accrediting agencies. The Department holds accrediting agencies accountable by enforcing their accreditation standards effectively. Also, as a part of the Department’s oversight roles, the Secretary of Education is required by law to publish a list of nationally recognized accrediting agencies that the Secretary determines to be reliable authorities as to the quality of education or training provided by the institutions of higher education and the higher education programs they accredit. The U.S. Secretary of Education also recognizes State agencies for the approval of public postsecondary vocational education and nurse education.

If you have questions about your vocational training program’s accreditation status, please call us for help.

How to Apply Online/TCF Guidelines Handout

Click Here for TCF’s guidelines and a how-to guide for completing your online application! If you aren’t sure where to start, check out our “Where to Start” guide.

How does TCF verify applicant eligibility?

Eligibility of original enrollees is verified by The CIRI Foundation through CIRI using information on your application. No additional documents are required.

Eligibility of direct lineal descendants is verified through birth certificate(s) which should connect applicants to the original enrollee of CIRI. More than one birth certificate may be necessary. Additional documentation such as marriage certificates, may be required to document lineage and/or legal name changes.

For CITC Tribal Higher Education Scholarship (paper application) applicants, CIRI shareholder status is verified by The CIRI Foundation through CIRI using information on your application. For CIRI shareholder lineal descendants, your CIRI Descendant Card or documents connecting you to the shareholder (birth and/or marriage certificates) are used to verify eligibility.

For RAVEN Fund applicants, eligibility is verified by The CIRI Foundation through CIRI when you request an application.

I am Alaska Native. Am I eligible to receive TCF scholarships and grants?

  • Alaska Native students eligible for The CIRI Foundation scholarship and grant programs are either original enrollees of Cook Inlet Region, Inc. (CIRI) or direct lineal descendants of an original enrollee of CIRI.
    • CIRI Shareholders may be eligible for the RAVEN Fund if they are not direct lineal descendants of an original enrollee.
  • Original enrollees are Alaska Natives who originally enrolled to an ANCSA regional or village corporation in 1971.
  • Direct lineal descendants are the natural or legally adopted children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc., of an original enrollee who enrolled to an ANCSA regional or village corporation in 1971. Brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, or cousins are not direct lineal descendants.

Alaska Native individuals not connected to CIRI should contact their ANCSA regional corporation and any village corporation (as applicable).

See the ANCSA Education Consortium list of members by clicking here. 

I'm a CIRI shareholder. Am I eligible to receive TCF scholarships and grants?

CIRI shareholders who are also original enrollees or direct lineal descendants of an original enrollee are eligible to use TCF’s online application for Scholarship and Grant Programs.

Inherited or gifted shares do not qualify as original enrollment. Still, a program, the RAVEN Fund, is designed to support CIRI Shareholders who are not original enrollees or their direct lineal descendants.

If you need clarification on your CIRI shareholder status, contact the CIRI Shareholder Relations Department at (907) 263-5191 or (800) 764-2474 toll-free.

Does TCF require CIRI Shareholder Stock Certificates or shareholder/descendant ID cards to prove eligibility?

No. The CIRI Foundation does not require your CIRI shareholder documents or ID cards. We will, however, require documents linking you to your Original Enrollee* such as birth certificates, marriage licenses, death certificates, adoption records, etc. to show a direct line from your Original Enrollee to you.

A CIRI Descendant ID card is helpful to have and can be used to prove your eligibility for CITC’s Tribal Higher Education Scholarship administered by The CIRI Foundation.

*Original Enrollee is an individual who acquired shares from Cook Inlet Region, Inc. (CIRI) during the 1971 Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. If you are unsure about your CIRI shareholder status, contact the CIRI Shareholder Relations Department at (800) 764-2474.

I am applying as a registered descendant with CIRI, how can I receive a copy of my eligibility documents on file with TCF?

Please use the TCF Eligibility Document Sharing Request Form if you would like to request a copy of your eligibility documents on file with TCF. Documents given to TCF can only be shared with the applicant if the applicant initially provided them. TCF does not have regular access or permission to share records exclusively held by CIRI.

Please learn more about registering as a CIRI descendant here.

Does TCF require my Certificate of Indian Blood (CIB/CDIB) card to prove my eligibility

No, The CIRI Foundation does not require a CIB/CDIB to prove your eligibility. However, TCF requires documents that link you to your Original Enrollee*, such as birth certificates, marriage licenses, adoption records, death records, etc., showing that you are directly descended from an Original Enrollee of CIRI.

However, the CITC Tribal Higher Education Scholarship, administered by The CIRI Foundation (paper application), does require your CIB/CDIB.

*Original Enrollee is an individual who acquired shares from Cook Inlet Region, Inc. (CIRI) during the 1971 Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. If you need clarification on your CIRI shareholder status, contact the CIRI Shareholder Relations Department at (800) 764-2474.

Can TCF help me earn my high school diploma or GED?

The CIRI Foundation provides funding for post-secondary education, including vocational training. Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED to be eligible for funding. However, we are happy to connect you with resources to earn your high school diploma or GED.

If you need assistance earning your GED for free, you are encouraged to contact Cook Inlet Tribal Council by calling (907) 793-3300 and asking for GED assistance. Alaska Native and American Indian people living in/near Anchorage are eligible.

You can learn more about CITC’s GED program at https://citci.org/employment-training-services.

How can I join TCF's Board of Directors?


Resumes are always welcome! TCF will hold onto your information for review should a seat become available if you submit a resume when the board is full.

About the Board

A Board of Directors governs the CIRI Foundation (TCF). The board consists of up to 15 members, a majority of whom are appointed by the Cook Inlet Region, Inc. Board of Directors; the CIRI Foundation Board of Directors selects the remaining.

The CIRI Foundation was established as a 501(c)3, private foundation, in 1982. It was originally incorporated as a separate nonprofit entity by the Cook Inlet Region, Inc. Board of Directors. The primary goal of The CIRI Foundation is to encourage the education and career development of the Foundation’s Alaska Native beneficiaries through post-secondary scholarships and grants, research, and other education projects. A second goal is to perpetuate and enhance the heritage of Cook Inlet Region’s Indigenous people through programs that foster appreciation among Alaska Native people and understanding by the general public. The organization has grown since 1982 to include a 10-employee team administering a ~$50,000,000 endowment.

What is expected of a CIRI Foundation Board Member?

Directors are responsible for determining the business affairs and policies of the nonprofit corporation that further The CIRI Foundation’s organizational goal, which is to promote individual self-development and economic self-sufficiency through education. The CIRI Foundation Board meets four times a year, usually in Anchorage. All directors are appointed to three-year terms. In addition, The CIRI Foundation Board appoints members to the Executive, Finance and Endowment, Education Awards, and Development Committees.


Qualifications for Board of Directors

The CIRI Foundation encourages qualified and professional CIRI shareholders and their direct lineal descendants to apply for consideration. Candidates must be at least 18 years of age; be well-rounded with a demonstrated understanding of business operations; have experience or high-level of interest in the field of education; have financial investment knowledge; be a strong decision-maker; possess strong leadership and communication skills, demonstrate honesty and integrity; and be actively involved in advancing Alaska Native education, language, and culture.

Note: Directors’ family members* are not eligible to receive awards during the term served. In addition, current award recipients are not eligible to serve on the board; however, past TCF recipients are highly encouraged to apply.

Selection Process

If TCF is not actively seeking board members, applications are accepted at any time and will be reviewed should an opening occur. All resumes and applications for the board applicant pool will be kept on file for one year from the submission date.

When a board seat becomes available, The CIRI Foundation Board of Directors Development Committee will review the board pool resumes and arrange a telephone or in-person interviews with qualified candidates as appropriate.

Final recommendations will then be submitted to The CIRI Foundation Board of Directors, who will make selection decisions and appointment recommendations.

Application: TCF Board of Directors Application

Interested board pool candidates may apply by sending their current resume and completed application to The CIRI Foundation, Attn: Development Committee, 3201 C Street, Suite 506, Anchorage, AK 99503.

For more information, please contact The CIRI Foundation.


*Disqualified family members defined – Family members of any sitting board member include only their spouse, ancestors, children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and the spouses of children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

Does TCF provide business loans or grants

No, The CIRI Foundation is not chartered to provide financial or technical assistance for starting a business.

Assistance may be available through:

Additionally, many universities and community schools also provide reference libraries, workshops, and technical assistance on starting a small business, developing business plans, and preparing commercial loan proposals. Connect with the university or college nearest you to learn more.

Does my application and necessary documentation need to be submitted by the application deadline?

Yes  — your signed application must be received by The CIRI Foundation before the deadline to be considered for funding. There are no exceptions. 

The CIRI Foundation must receive your signed application before the deadline to be considered for funding.

  • For online applications, the signature is electronic. You must hit “Finish” to transmit an application to The CIRI Foundation. You will know this worked when an automatically generated confirmation email is sent to the account associated with your online profile.
  • For paper applications, you must complete and sign your application and fax, mail, email, or deliver the signed application to The CIRI Foundation. You are responsible for ensuring the application is received by The CIRI Foundation before the deadline.

Once an application is received, it is reviewed, and you receive an acknowledgment email noting if the application is complete or incomplete. It contains a list of additional documents necessary to complete the application. 

How do I apply for one of the higher Annual Special Excellence, Excellence, or Achievement Awards?

Apply for academic year funding at the June 1 deadline.

Annual scholarships are only awarded at the June 1 deadline. You cannot apply specifically for the higher merit-based Annual Scholarship Awards, but all applicants meeting the criteria for the merit-based awards are automatically considered by The CIRI Foundation.

These annual awards are determined through a competitive process. Students are scored on the following criteria:

  • Timeliness of submission (application and materials submitted by the deadline)
  • Completeness of application (application and supplementary materials are complete)
  • GPA (Grade Point Average)
  • Rigor of coursework/degree program
  • Grade level (freshman, sophomore, junior, senior, graduate)
  • Degree program (two-year, four-year, graduate)
  • Personal financial contribution
  • Financial amount needed
  • Employment preparation (does the degree program directly relate to career goals?)
  • Statement of Purpose (clarity of career goal, quality of English usage and style, how your educational goals relate to giving back to the Alaska Native community)
  • Community service (extent of current involvement in volunteer/civic activities)

When reviewing applications for the competitive annual scholarship awards, the Statement of Purpose and level of community service/civic activities is often the determining factor. In addition, clearly, articulated education and career goals are important, as well as how your educational goals relate to giving back to the Alaska Native community.

If I am awarded funding and cannot complete the courses/credits or maintain other eligibility requirements, what should I do?

Step 1: Don’t panic.

Step 2: Email tcf@thecirifoundation.org with your updated information and situation, and then wait for an answer from the Program Officer.

Step 3: Call TCF and any other scholarship organizations you receive funding from if you have questions.

Send TCF written notification of any changes in enrollment immediately. You may be able to work with TCF and your school’s financial aid office to reduce the impacts of enrollment changes and maintain good standing for your funding.

Can I use a TCF scholarship or grant for living or daycare expenses?

The “personal expenses” portion of a TCF scholarship or grant award can be used toward any living expenses, like daycare, gas in your car, groceries, etc.

Awards from TCF are first applied toward direct education expenses — tuition, student fees, on-campus housing/meals, books, and required supplies. Personal expenses may be disbursed after all other education expenses are covered.

  • Vocational Training Grant recipients can use up to $500 for personal expenses per award.
  • Academic-year General Scholarship recipients can use up to $1,000 for personal expenses per award, but unless otherwise arranged, this amount will be split across terms (semesters or quarters).
  • June 1, Fall-only General Scholarship recipients can use up to $500 for personal expenses per award.
  • December 1 General Scholarship recipients can use up to $500 for personal expenses per award.


Seeking additional funding to support your education? Check out TCF’s Education Resources Handbook (click on the image to download) for other scholarships and grants you may be eligible for.

Also, remember to ask your faculty and department if there are additional scholarship or grant programs specific to your field of study. Your school may have special aid for daycare or other living expenses too.

Is my scholarship or grant taxable income that should be reported on my tax return?

Under provisions of the 1986 Tax Reform Act, any portion of a scholarship or grant you receive from The CIRI Foundation applied toward room and board or other personal expenses is taxable. It is the student’s responsibility to determine what part, if any, of the award is taxable and to report such amounts on your personal income tax return.

As long as you are degree-seeking at an accredited institution, the portion of your scholarship or grant award applied toward qualified education expenses (tuition, registration fees, books, supplies, and other fees related to the course of study) continues to be excluded from federal taxable income.

For more information, visit the IRS website.

What is the Federal Tax ID or Employer Identification Number for TCF?

The Federal ID or Employer Identification Number for TCF is 92-0087914.

TCF is a private foundation registered 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization.

What is a cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA)?

A cumulative GPA is the average GPA of *all* coursework you have attempted.
Your GPA, both term and cumulative, may range from 0.0 to 4.0.

Grade points may vary by institution but generally follow:
A= 4.0, B= 3.0, C=2.0, D=1.0, and F/withdraw=0.0

A grade point average (GPA) is calculated by dividing the total grade points earned by the total amount of credit hours attempted.

To calculate the grade points for a class, multiply the number of credit hours by the grade earned—for example, earning an A (4.0) in a three-credit course results in 12 grade points. Since this is a single class, finding the average by dividing by credit hours (3) brings you back to a 4.0 for the GPA.

Repeat this process for each class you took in a term and then add up the total grade points earned and divide by the total credits attempted. This is your term GPA.

For example, if your grades were A, B, C, B, and all were three-credit courses, your GPA calculation looks like this:

  • Figure out the grade points for each class
    • Starting with an A (4.0) in a three-credit course results in 12 grade points (3 x 4.0= 12.0)
    • The B (3.0) results in nine grade points (3 x 3.0= 9.0)
    • The C (2.0) is worth six grade points (3 x 2.0= 6.0)
    • Another B means nine more grade points
  • Adding these up (12 + 9 + 6 + 9) means you earned 36 grade points for the term
  • Divide this by the total of attempted  credits (12) for the term… 36/12 = 3.0 GPA

To find your cumulative GPA, you can add all the grade points you have earned and divide by the total number of credits you have attempted. You can also look on your transcripts for the “Cum. GPA” (usually at the bottom) to find your cumulative grade point average.

In compliance with federal law, information will only be released to another party, including parents or family members, with the applicant’s written consent.

Release of Information Consent Form

A general release of information consent is in effect until revoked in writing. Please note, however, that applicants must submit a new information request form with each application they wish to have TCF share information for TCF to use updated documents.

Statement of Purpose

Your statement of purpose can be entered in the space provided in your application or uploaded to your documents in the manage files section of the online application. 

▪ New Applicants (500 words or more) –Describe your education and career goals.  How does your degree program fit with your education and career plans?  How are you currently, or plan to, contribute to a positive Alaska Native community?  You may attach your personal history and a summary of your accomplishments.

▪ Repeat ApplicantsUpdate only needed if changing your major. 

ANCSA Education Foundations List

If you are associated with any other Regional Corporations, please visit their website or give them a call to see if you are eligible for additional funding.

See the AEC Contact List for information on all 12 Regional Corporation Foundations.

CamScanner App for your Smartphone

Turn your smartphone into a document scanner! CamScanner is a free app that allows you to digitize paper documents using your smartphone’s camera. Take a picture of any paper document, and CamScanner can auto-crop the image, enhance the image quality and create an industry-standard PDF file. Some limitations exist, so please read about it before downloading the app. This app is a good alternative if you need a document scanned for us, have a smartphone, and do not have access to a scanner.

Click here for more information (links to external site)

Education Resources Handbook

Inside, you will find information on scholarships, grants, internships, and employment opportunities. You’ll also find plenty of advice for getting into college and tips for academic success!

Education Resources Handbook (PDF)