Native Americans in Arizona can get free college tuition : NPR

Students walk between buildings in September 2014 at Little Singer Community School in Birdsprings, Arizona, on the Navajo Nation.

John Locher/AP


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John Locher/AP


Students walk between buildings in September 2014 at Little Singer Community School in Birdsprings, Arizona, on the Navajo Nation.

John Locher/AP

The University of Arizona announced Monday that Native American students will no longer have to pay tuition or fees at its main campus in Tucson. The university hopes the new program will better serve the state’s large indigenous population.

The program, a first of its kind at a public university in Arizona, will be available to students enrolled in one of 22 federally recognized tribes. More than 400 current students will be eligible at the school’s main campus in Tucson, where tuition is currently $12,700 per semester.

“The University of Arizona is committed to recognizing and acknowledging the history endured by Native American communities,” Kasey Urquídez, vice president of enrollment management at the school, said in a statement. “We are committed to supporting access and success for Indigenous students.

The University of Arizona joins a number of other public universities offering free tuition to Native students, including public schools in California, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, and Oregon.

The goal of the programs is to remove some of the barriers to entry for tribal students. About a quarter of Indigenous students go on to graduate school, compared to 40% of all students, according to the National Post-Secondary Policy Institute.

Nohemi M. Moore