Indian Tuition Waiver Program. Research Report, Volume 20, Number 3.Report as inadecuate

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Michigan has had responsibilities for educating the state's American Indians since the Comstock Agreement of 1934. A 1976 legislative act and its subsequent revisions provided for state institutions of higher education to grant free tuition to certain American Indians through the Michigan Indian Tuition Waiver (ITW) program. Eligible Indians had to have a certain percentage of Indian blood, meet pre-enrollment residency requirements, and satisfy requirements concerning degree programs and full- or part-time attendance. A 1996 study found that typical ITW recipients were first-generation college students, part-time college students, unmarried females with 2-4 dependents, 30 years old, and not eligible for most other forms of financial aid. Recipients' mean gross annual income was $22,000. Attempts in 1981 and 1994 to repeal the program failed, and in 1995 the legislature continued the program in spite of the governor's objection. In 1996 the legislature eliminated the ITW, but waiver amounts were folded into higher education base per-pupil funding of each state university and college. Continuation of the program thus depended on colleges and universities deciding to allocate state funding to tuition reimbursement. Since ITW grants are no longer a line item, the state cannot determine the amount of ITW revenue each university and community college provides in free tuition. Since 1976, 15,000 Native Americans have enrolled in the program. Twenty years later, approximately 70 percent of those enrolled had completed some sort of certificate or degree. (Contains 16 references and a list of colleges receiving ITW funds in 1996-97.) (TD)

Descriptors: American Indian Education, American Indians, Higher Education, Politics of Education, State Aid, State Legislation, State Programs, Treaties, Trust Responsibility (Government)

Author: Connors, Paul G.


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