Tribal Technical College Announces Free Tuition for Native Students

United Tribes Technical College (UTTC) in Bismarck, N.D., announced that beginning this fall, it will waive tuition for students who are enrolled members of federally recognized tribes. The one-year pilot program aims to assist more Native American students with starting college, without them having to take out loans.

The waiver amount will be based on unmet financial need and will only cover tuition costs; new and current UTTC students are eligible. The college’s current student body is 87 percent Native American and 70 percent female.

“We serve a population that has the lowest annual income averages in the entire United States,” UTTC President Leander McDonald said in a press release. “These are students from some of the most impoverished areas [of] the country. And we believe it is our obligation to offer realistic financial assistance to help them get started on a path that will change their lives.”

UTTC will conclude its participation in the federal student loan program at the end of the 2015-2016 academic year. McDonald said that student loans are impractical for families who may not have savings accounts or be financially literate. The tuition waiver offers an alternative to taking out student loans.

“As a tribal college, it’s our mission, first and foremost, to serve the education needs of tribes and tribal people,” McDonald said. “To make higher education attainable, we’ve determined that it’s necessary to do the financial piece in ways that do not exclusively rely on student loans.”

The deadline to apply to UTTC for the fall 2016 semester is June 30. New students are required to submit a completed FAFSA with their application and are encouraged to apply early.