U of M to Provide Free or Reduced Tuition for Native Students on all Five of its Campuses

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The tuition waiver program is available to enrolled citizens of federally recognized tribal nations in Minnesota.

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Feven Gerezgiher reports:

Starting next fall, the University of Minnesota is providing free or reduced tuition for Native American students on all five of its campuses.

The University of Minnesota has offered free tuition to American Indian students on its Morris campus from its founding. This goes back to 1909, when Congress deeded a boarding school to the state of Minnesota with the stipulation that an institution of learning be maintained and American Indian students “be admitted free of charge.”

The tuition waiver program is available to enrolled citizens of federally recognized tribal nations in Minnesota. Students must be starting their first year of an undergraduate program or transferring from a tribal college.

Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College President Stephanie Hammitt said this is a good thing.

“Anything that we can do to help the students to make it easier, make it less stressful for them to continue on - that's what we want to support,” she said. “And definitely with lower or free tuition, that is something that is going to benefit all those students.”

Hammitt said having the financial assistance to attend a large, research institution like the University could encourage students to pursue different fields or advanced degrees.

University officials said in a release that they’re working to improve retention and graduation rates of Native American students by increasing financial assistance and by reinforcing student support programs.

Hammitt said extending the tuition assistance to transfer students from tribal colleges helps set students up for success.

“Some students might not feel comfortable going directly to a university setting,” she said. “And therefore, you know, a smaller tribal college might suit their needs and help them gain the confidence they need to move on.”

Hammitt said ideally the financial aid would be offered to descendants of enrolled members, too.

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