Moving America Forward

How a Simple Rule Change Will Make It Easier for Native Americans to Go to College

January 3, 2014
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How a Simple Rule Change Will Make It Easier for Native Americans to Go to College
Joshua Lott/Getty Images
Thanks to a change in residency policy, Arizona's state universities just became more accessible.

The Arizona Board of Regents just made it easier for Native American students to attend college in state. A new residency policy lets enrolled members of any sovereign federally recognized tribe whose reservation land lies at least partially in Arizona to be eligible for in-state tuition at the state’s public universities.

The change is a significant shift from the old rule, which required students to show proof of residence on tribal lands to qualify for in-state tuition. That often turned out to be an arduous process, given that many Navajo families who live on the reservation have mailing addresses elsewhere, because, say, there’s no local post office where they reside. The new policy will require students to prove tribal membership instead of physical residence, which can be done by providing a certificate from the tribe’s Office of Vital Records.

The Board of Regents is hoping that starting in the spring, when the new policy takes effect, tribal members who are currently attending school out of state or thinking about doing so will be persuaded to come back home.

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