Students who are enrolled members of one of the sovereign Arizona federally-recognized tribes now will be eligible for in-state tuition at Arizona's three state universities.
The Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR) recently approved residency policy changes. The new policy goes into effect the spring semester of 2014.
This new policy also provides an incentive for American Indian students from one of Arizona's federally recognized tribes who attend college out-of-state to return to Arizona to complete a bachelor's degree. Approximately 4,200 American Indian students currently attend one of Arizona's state universities either as an undergraduate or graduate student.
More than 35 tribal colleges exist in at least 13 states. These mostly two-year institutions attract many Arizona Native American students who will consider transferring to four-year universities. Previously, the ABOR residency policy would have prevented these students from being considered for in-state tuition, prompting many of these students to remain in the state of the tribal college.
"Due to lack of infrastructure and jobs, many Arizona tribal members move off-reservation to work and attend school," said Regent LuAnn Leonard, executive director of the Hopi Education Endowment Fund. "By approving these policy changes, the Board acknowledged this reality for Arizona tribes while ensuring that students who have been moved away know that our universities are working to welcome them back home."
The policy change is not retroactive to previous semesters. Continuing students who have been classified as non-residents must contact the residency office to change their residency classification.
"This is excellent news for Arizona's Native American communities and our three universities," said ABOR President Eileen Klein. "The Board is committed to student success and this policy revision is reflective of that commitment and the Board's recognition of the higher education needs of the Arizona American Indian tribes."
The revised policy states: "For purposes of residency classification, enrollment as a tribal member in a federally recognized Arizona tribe will be sufficient to establish residency for tuition purposes."
To be eligible for in-state tuition under this revision a student must provide proof of being an enrolled tribal member, the tribe must be one of Arizona's federally-recognized tribes and the student must be a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. or have lawful immigration status in the U.S.
"I commend the Board of Regents for taking this important step that encourages Arizona's American Indian students who have moved away to return to our state to further their education," said John R. Lewis, executive director of the Intertribal Council of Arizona. "Ultimately, it will aid in strengthening workforce development and diversity for our state."
Native American students who are not enrolled members of an Arizona tribe may qualify for residency under other ABOR policies. More information is available at www.azregents.edu.