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The Community We Serve

Rural South Dakota
One in five students we serve must travel more than 50 miles to attend classes.

The American Indian College Fund Provides Native Americans                                          with Higher Education Access

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.
  • Less than 13% of American Indians earn a college degree, as they face unique challenges when seeking an education.
  • The average per capita income for reservations is $15,671 (U.S. Census Bureau 2010) per year. More than 28.4% of American Indians live below the poverty line, compared to the national poverty rate of 15.3% (U.S. Census Bureau 2010). The American Indian College Fund helps fill the gap by awarding scholarships and providing programmatic support to the TCUs.
  • The demand for scholarships is greater than the supply due to high poverty rates, a young American Indian population, and the growing number of students seeking an education for a better life. The number of American Indians enrolled in colleges and universities has more than doubled in the past 30 years and the number of degrees they earned has doubled in 25 years.

Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCU) Profile:

  • The TCU system is a bridge to self-sufficiency and greater success in life.
  • The American Indian College Fund was founded in 1989 to support American Indian students and the TCUs.
  • The first TCU was established in 1968 by the Navajo nation. Today the American Indian College Fund supports 34 TCUs located on or near Indian reservations which provide access to a higher education.
  • Most tribal colleges receive no Indian casino or state tax revenues.
  • 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.

  • In order to keep higher education affordable, TCUs keep tuition low for their students. The average cost of attendance at a TCU in 2013-14 was approximately $14,168 per year (including room, board, books, and tuition averaged across institutions).

  • TCUs are accredited and must meet the same academic standards as all other colleges and universities.

  • The 34 accredited TCUs the College Fund supports serve more than 30,000 full-time students.

  • TCUs promote academic achievement, cultural identity, and lift students out of poverty through education.

  • 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 us change that with your support. Donate today.