UW-Madison Launches Full Tuition Program for Wisconsin Native Tribes

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Bascom Hall at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. (Photo credit: Phil Roeder/Flickr)

The University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison) has announced it will launch a groundbreaking new program next fall that will provide full college funding to every member of Wisconsin’s 11 federally recognized Native tribes, irrespective of their financial situation.

Developed in consultation with the Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council, the Wisconsin Tribal Educational Promise Program will cover tuition, fees, housing, meals, books, and additional educational costs for undergraduates who are registered tribe members. A separate five-year pilot program for medical and law students will cover tuition and fees, excluding books and living expenses.

During a press briefing, UW-Madison Chancellor Jennifer Mnookin introduced the initiative as a step towards acknowledging the university’s history with Native communities and supporting Native students’ educational journey by removing financial barriers.

“Frankly, it just felt like the right thing to do,” said Mnookin. “As we look at ways to honor the history of this state and what happened before the state of Wisconsin was the state of Wisconsin, and as we think about trying to help the flourishing of Native students here, it just seems like the right approach.”

Approximately 650 students at UW-Madison self-identify as Native American, including individuals from other states and those not meeting tribal enrollment criteria, reports The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The university also anticipates an increase in Native student enrollment in the future.

The program’s launch follows a recent agreement between the UW Board of Regents and the state legislature that will result in the restructuring of diversity staffing positions. Mnookin reiterated the university’s commitment to diversity in light of these changes.

“I have said and will continue to say that diversity is a core value for us as an institution here at UW-Madison,” Mnookin said. “This program is another example of the ways that is and will continue to be true.”