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The Community We Serve

Rural South Dakota
Less than 13% of American Indians earn a college degree due to unique challenges they face, including living in remote, rural areas.

We Help American Indians Get A College Degree

Our goal: We have increased the college education rate of American Indians served by tribal colleges and universities (TCUs) to 18%. Our goal is to achieve 60% by 2025.

The Students We Serve:

  • American Indians account for only 1% of all college students.
  • Only 13.6% of American Indians earn a college degree due to the unique challenges they face when seeking an education.
  • More than 28% of American Indians live below the poverty line, compared to the national poverty rate of 15.5% for the overall population (American Community Survey 2014). The American Indian College Fund helps make college affordable with scholarships.
  • The demand for scholarships is greater than the supply due to a young American Indian population and the growing number of students seeking an education for a better life.

What Are Tribal Colleges and Universities?

  • TCUs are located on or near Indian reservations and offer educational programs tailored for American Indian students;
  • The first TCU was established in 1968 by the Navajo nation. Today the American Indian College Fund supports 35 TCUs which provide access to a quality, affordable higher education.
  • Most tribal colleges receive no Indian casino or state tax revenues.
  • In order to keep higher education affordable, TCUs keep tuition low for their students. The average cost of attendance at a TCU in 2014-15 was approximately $16,355 per year (including room, board, books, and tuition averaged across institutions).

  • TCUs are accredited higher education institutions that meet the same academic standards as other colleges and universities. Fourteen offer accredited bachelor's degree programs, five offer master's degree programs, 35 offer associate's degrees, and 29 offer certificate programs. Many have articulation agreements with other four-year colleges and universities.

  • The 35 accredited TCUs the College Fund supports serve more than 17,000 students enrolled in academic programs and more than 100,000 community members who are enrolled in academic programs, job training, high school equivalency classes and testing, health programs, and other programs.

  • In 1994, Congress provided Land Grant status for tribal colleges and universities in U.S. agricultural legislation to provide equity funding, access to research and extension programs, and other federal infrastructure grants and loans. Despite federal recognition and funding and the progress of Indian education, TCUs remain the most poorly funded higher education institutions in the country.

  • TCUs promote academic achievement, cultural identity, and self-sufficiency.

  • TCUs provide necessary services to American Indian communities such as health education and disease prevention, daycare and health centers, libraries, computer centers, research, language preservation, community activities, and lifelong learning programs.





American Indians account for only 1% of college graduates. You can help change that. Donate today.