If you’re a member of a federally recognized tribe or a “direct descendant” of one, you qualify for free tuition at the University of Minnesota-Morris, one of two schools in the country with such a provision for American Indians.
That’s proving problematic for the school, whose tuition-free tribal population has doubled in the past decade to more than 17 percent and is “expected to grow,” Minnesota Daily reports:
“It’s unusual for families to be able to find a college where Native culture is reflected as much,” said Sandy Olson-Loy, Morris’ vice chancellor for student affairs. “Especially sitting on a campus site that was home to an American Indian boarding school, which really tried to wipe out American Indian culture.”
Federal officials have offered a proposal in the House to “reimburse schools’ tuition waivers for out-of-state Native American students,” who are about a quarter of the tribal population at Morris.
One student getting free tuition says the school isn’t advertising the program enough:
Trey Goodsell, an environmental studies sophomore, is a member of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate tribe, whose reservation lies on land in both North Dakota and South Dakota. He said by not paying tuition, he’s avoiding debt after college.
Goodsell is also the co-chair of Morris’ Circle of Nations Indigenous Association. He said the group wants to educate more students about the tuition waiver, which has recently generated a lot of discussion among current and prospective students.