University of Utah Will Waive Tuition for Indigenous Students

Utah's largest university joins a growing list of institutions across the country lowering financial barriers to higher education for Native Americans.
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  • Approximately 120 Native American students are currently enrolled in the University of Utah.
  • The waiver only applies to students from certain tribal nations.
  • Many states have extended similar waivers to Native American students in recent years.

The University of Utah plans to become the first university in the state to waive tuition and fees for Native American students.

University of Utah President Taylor Randall announced the tuition-free program last week during a summit of Native American leaders from nearby tribes. Students from any of the eight federally recognized tribal nations in Utah will be able to benefit from the scholarships beginning in the spring 2023 semester.

Details of the scholarship options are still being determined, according to a statement from the university.

"My vision for the [University of Utah] is to impact the lives of all 3.3 million Utahns," Randall said after the announcement. "This includes members of Utah's tribal nations. This is a vital part of committing the [university] to deliver a transformative educational experience to communities across Utah."

The university joins a growing list of institutions and university systems that have implemented similar waiver programs over the past year. The University of Arizona announced its own grant program in July, while all 10 institutions in the University of California (UC) system will kick off a tuition and fee waiver program for Indigenous Americans this fall semester.

— Mary Ann Villarreal, VP for equity, diversity, and inclusion at the University of Utah

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Mary Ann Villarreal, VP for equity, diversity, and inclusion at the University of Utah, said the waiver is the latest in the school's efforts to uplift the state's tribal nations.

"We are thrilled about expanding our support of Native American communities," Villarreal said in a statement. "This announcement cements our commitment to Native American students that coming to the [University of Utah] is about more than just obtaining a great education. It is a recognition that our land acknowledgment is a living statement with the recognition that we will build new futures together."

According to the university, approximately 120 students at the University of Utah self-identify as American Indian or Alaskan Native each year. That was less than 1% of the total student body in fall 2021.

Starting Aug. 1, the university will waive application fees for students attending tribal high schools in Utah. It will also waive the fee for first-time, first-year students with a permanent mailing address in the state.