Starting this fall, Augsburg University will launch the American Indian Recognition Full Tuition Program to support and promote the importance of American Indian students on campus.
While several states have enacted laws providing financial aid to American Indian students, this full-tuition program appears to be one of the first of its kind among private U.S. colleges and universities. Unlike many public institutions, Augsburg’s program does not limit eligibility to American Indian students who live in the state.
The program defines “American Indian” as an enrolled member of any federally recognized American Indian tribe, Alaskan Native Village, or Canadian First Nation, or a direct descendent (child or grandchild) of an enrolled or tribally verified member. A student does not need to be a Minnesota resident or establish residence on trust land to participate.
“One of our commitments at Augsburg is to bring an equity lens to affordability,” said Augsburg President Paul C. Pribbenow. “This program is one step toward recognizing the profound contributions American Indian students and their communities make to the university and to higher education more broadly.”
“This program is groundbreaking among private universities nationwide. But at the same time, it is absolutely in line with Augsburg’s long-standing commitments to intentional diversity and inclusive excellence,” said Eric Jolly, president and CEO of the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation and a member of Augsburg’s Board of Regents. “I hope this is just the first of many institutions designing creative and equitable paths to education for native and First Nations people.”
All program applicants must fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) annually. For eligible students with family incomes under $125,000, the program will cover all remaining tuition and fees after state and federal financial aid (such as a Pell Grant) have been applied. The program will cover 100% of tuition and fees above the estimated family contribution determined by the FAFSA for eligible students with family incomes above $125,000. Students can apply other scholarships or external financial aid toward costs such as housing, meals, transportation, and books.
As of fall 2022, the program will be open to currently enrolled or newly admitted first year students, transfer students, and participants in any of Augsburg’s undergraduate adult degree completion programs. It is renewable for up to eight full-time fall and spring terms for traditional undergraduate students, or until degree requirements are completed for adult degree completion students. To be eligible, students must demonstrate a commitment, grounded in lived experience, to recognizing the importance and diversity of American Indians in higher education.
“The systemic injustices that have limited access to higher education for many American Indian students need structural solutions. This program is one step that we as an institution can take,” said Joanne Reeck, Augsburg’s vice president for equity and inclusion.
“My mom and dad told me my whole life, you’re going to college. It was a “where” and not an “if.” What I needed from a school—the main thing that was going to make or break it—was if I could afford it,” said Reuben Kitto Stately, a fourth-year Augsburg student from both the Red Lake Nation and Santee Sioux Nation. “But the culture of the campus, the way the Native students support each other, was also a big selling point. This part of the south side (of Minneapolis) is the most concentrated urban Native population in the whole country.”
The deadline to apply for the American Indian Recognition Full Tuition Program is May 1 for fall enrollment and December 1 for spring enrollment. Details and eligibility criteria are available at Augsburg.edu/american-indian-recognition.
Augsburg University offers more than 50 undergraduate majors and 11 graduate degrees to approximately 3,200 students of diverse backgrounds at its campus in the vibrant center of the Twin Cities and nearby Rochester, Minnesota, location. Augsburg educates students to be informed citizens, thoughtful stewards, critical thinkers, and responsible leaders. An Augsburg education is defined by excellence in the liberal arts and professional studies, guided by the faith and values of the Lutheran church, and shaped by its urban and global settings.
Learn more at Augsburg.edu.