Native American Promise Tuition Program

Starting the Fall 2022 semester, the University of Minnesota Native American Promise Tuition Program expands upon a full tuition waiver program on the University’s Morris campus, which has long been in place through Minnesota statute given the campus property’s history with Native American boarding schools.

The expanded program will provide substantial financial support, in many cases free tuition, to first-year undergraduate students and transfer students from Tribal colleges on the remaining four campuses who are enrolled citizens in one of Minnesota’s 11 federally recognized Tribal Nations. 

To be considered, students must be admitted to one of four* University of Minnesota campuses (Crookston, Duluth, Rochester or Twin Cities), complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), meet family household income requirements, and be an enrolled citizen of one of the 11 federally recognized Tribal Nations in Minnesota (complete the Native American Promise Tribal Affiliation Form). Students enrolled at the University of Minnesota Morris are considered for the American Indian Tuition Waiver

Eligibility Requirements

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What are the eligibility requirements for the Native American Promise Tuition Promise Program?

As of Fall 2022, newly admitted University of Minnesota freshmen undergraduate students and transfer students from one of the four Tribal colleges in Minnesota who are enrolled citizens of one of the 11 federally recognized Tribal Nations in Minnesota, who complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and meet income requirements will automatically be considered for Native American Promise Tuition Program.  

Prospective students for Fall 2022 and beyond, at any of the five U of M campuses must establish eligibility within their first enrollment year (either as a new freshman or transfer student from one of the 4 Tribal Colleges). Students enrolled prior to Fall 2022 are not eligible for this program. 

Note, students enrolling in U of M Morris are reviewed as part of the existing program. 

To be eligible, students must:

  • Apply to and be admitted as either a freshman or transfer student from one of the four Tribal colleges in Minnesota to a University of Minnesota campus, having satisfied all of the University's preparation requirements.

    Note, students enrolling in U of M Morris are reviewed as part of the existing program
  • Complete the FAFSA annually. The FAFSA becomes available on October 1, and we encourage you to apply as soon as possible.
  • Enroll full-time, taking at least the minimum credits outlined by campus below, per semester, in a baccalaureate degree program at the University of Minnesota, as a first time degree-seeking student. (Students who have already received an undergraduate degree are not eligible for the Native American  Promise Tuition Program.)
    • Twin Cities and Rochester campuses:  Minimum 13 credits,  15+ credits are recommended to complete your degree in 4 years.
    • Crookston and Duluth campuses: Minimum 12 credits,  15+ credits are recommended to complete your degree in 4 years.
      Note, students enrolling in U of M Morris are reviewed as part of the existing program.
  • Have a family income as shown below and demonstrate financial need.
    • 100% tuition for students with a family income up to $75,000 
    • 90% tuition for students with a family income between $75,001- $100,000
    • 80% tuition for students with a family income between $100,001- $125,000 

Note: Native American families with incomes over $125,000 will be eligible for other state and federal need- and merit-based aid. Students often receive a combination of need-based and merit-based aid.

  • Continued eligibility will be dependent on good standing and progress toward degree, including:
    • Full-time enrollment 
      • Twin Cities and Rochester campuses:  Minimum 13 credits, 15+ credits are recommended to complete your degree in 4 years.
      • Crookston and Duluth campuses: Minimum 12 credits, 15+ credits are recommended to complete your degree in 4 years.
        Note, students enrolling in U of M Morris are reviewed as part of the existing program.
    • Maintaining a term and cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher
    • Declaring their major and subsequently enrolling in major coursework per the promoting timely graduation policy

Please note that the Native American Promise Tuition Program applies only to fall and spring semesters. Tuition for courses taken during May or summer terms will not be covered.

What if I live in Wisconsin, South Dakota or North Dakota and am enrolled in one of the 11 Federally Recognized Tribes in Minnesota?  How will the Native American Promise Tuition Program funding work for me?

Admitted students who meet tribal and income eligibility (and have submitted a FAFSA), but that live in one of the states with a reciprocity agreement must also complete a reciprocity form each year to receive the Promise Tuition program funding.

Do I have to be eligible my freshman year to be considered eligible for the Native American Promise Program funding?

Prospective students for Fall 2022 and beyond, at any of the five U of M campuses must establish eligibility within their first enrollment year (either as a new freshman or transfer student from one of the 4 Tribal Colleges). Students enrolled prior to Fall 2022 are not eligible for this program.

About the Native American Promise Tuition Program

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What does this program cover?

Starting in the fall 2022 academic year, the Native American Promise Tuition Program provides financial support to cover up to the cost of tuition (amounts vary by campus), for four consecutive years for new incoming freshmen and up to three years for eligible transfer students from the four Tribal Colleges in Minnesota.  See Eligibility Requirements for further details. 

Do I need to apply for the University of Minnesota Native American Promise Tuition Program?

There is not a separate Native American Promise Tuition Promise Program application, but students need to provide verification of Tribal Citizenship. Students who are admitted to one of the four University of Minnesota campuses and also complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) will be automatically considered.  

Note, students enrolling in U of M Morris are reviewed as part of the existing program

To be considered:

  1. Apply for admission to the University of Minnesota.
    For deadline information and online applications, visit each campus' Web site.
  2. Apply for financial aid.
    For more information about applying for financial aid or to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online go to https://fafsa.gov. The FAFSA becomes available on October 1, and we encourage you to apply as soon as possible.
  3. Provide your Tribal Enrollment information.  More information on how to complete this step will be provided. 

Is the Native American Promise Tuition Program renewable?

Recipients are guaranteed their Native American Promise Tuition Program funding for four consecutive years for freshmen and up to three years for transfer students from the four Minnesota Tribal colleges as long as they continue to meet the eligibility criteria above.

Are there any elements of this program beyond tuition support?

The program also includes building further awareness of existing student support programs for Native American students, including the Circle of Indigenous Nations, the American Indian Cultural House on the Twin Cities campus, the American Indian Learning Resource Center on the Duluth campus, and American Indian Support Services on the Morris campus.

How is eligibility determined under the new expanded program?

To be eligible for the University of Minnesota Native American Promise Tuition Program, students must be citizens of one of 11 federally recognized Tribal Nations in Minnesota (and also meet other Eligibility Requirements).

Receiving Native American Promise Tuition Funds

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Do students need to apply for the Native American Promise Tuition Program?

There is not a separate Native American Promise Tuition Promise Program application, but students need to provide verification of Tribal Citizenship. Students who are admitted to one of the four University of Minnesota campuses and also complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) will be automatically considered.  

Note, students enrolling in U of M Morris are reviewed as part of the existing program

To be considered:

  1. Apply for admission to the University of Minnesota.
    For deadline information and online applications, visit each campus' Web site.
  2. Apply for financial aid.
    For more information about applying for financial aid or to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online go to https://fafsa.gov. The FAFSA becomes available on October 1, and we encourage you to apply as soon as possible.
  3. Provide your Tribal Enrollment information.  More information on how to complete this step will be provided. 

Is the FAFSA required?

Yes. Students must complete a FAFSA for the first year and annually thereafter to verify income and financial need.

How is total family income defined?

Total family income is calculated by the FAFSA, please contact One Stop Student Services if you have questions.

Why doesn’t this program offer completely free tuition to all citizens of the 11 Tribal Nations?

The program’s objective is to provide higher education access to students who may not otherwise have that access. As the University does with financial aid for all of its students, this program is built around the needs of individual students and their families, providing more support—up to completely free tuition—to those with the greatest financial need.

What existing tuition programs were/are in place for Native American students?

The University’s Morris campus has long had a tuition waiver in place through Minnesota statute. Morris admits qualified Native American students free of tuition charges. Native American students do not need to establish residence on trust lands, nor do they need to be Minnesota residents to qualify. More information about this program can be found here.

How are the Promise tuition funds allotted?

The Native American Promise Tuition Program ensures that families that meet the household income levels and other eligibility requirements will have their student’s tuition covered at either 100%, 90% or 80% (depending on income). Federal, state and other university grants/scholarships are applied first, and only if an eligible student has any remaining tuition balance would the Native American Promise Tuition funding be applied.

What if an eligible student receives a tuition waiver?

Tuition waivers are applied to cover tuition first followed by federal, state and other university grants/scholarships. The Native American Promise Tuition funding will be applied if there are any remaining tuition costs.   Note, costs outside of tuition are NOT covered in this program (housing, fees, books, etc.)

Other Frequently Asked Questions

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Why are you starting this program now?

Since the beginning of University President Joan Gabel’s presidency, University leaders have acknowledged the need to better serve citizens of Minnesota’s Tribal nations and their communities. This program is a meaningful step to increasing access, further embracing diversity and continuing to improve retention and graduation rates while closing opportunity gaps. All of these goals align with the University’s mission and our systemwide strategic plan, MPact 2025.

What if an admitted student is enrolled in one of the 11 federally recognized tribes in Minnesota, but lives outside of Minnesota?

The student will be considered eligible as a member of one of the federally recognized Tribal Nations in Minnesota. They would still need to meet the other requirements of household income levels, and have completed the FAFSA. 

If they are residents of one of the states with a reciprocity agreement (Wisconsin, North Dakota or South Dakota), they would also need to complete a reciprocity form for their state.

Why is this program limited to undergraduate students only?

As with nearly all U of M need-based scholarship programs, the U of M Native American Promise Tuition Program focuses resources on undergraduate students, who often have significant unmet financial need in attending higher education.  Our other need-based scholarship programs, including the U of M Promise and Promise Plus programs, also support only undergraduates. 

What happens to eligibility if a U of M transfers within any of the other four University of Minnesota campuses?

As of Fall 2022, if a student had taken the steps to confirm eligibility for Native American Promise Tuition funding originally, then their eligibility will be retained as they transfer within the University of MInnesota System (as long as income levels and other requirements remain the same).

What happens to an enrolled student's eligibility (from one of the four campuses Rochester, Duluth, Crookston or Twin Cities), if they transfer to Morris?

The student will continue to be eligible for the Native American Promise Tuition Program as long as they meet requirements.  In addition, the student will be reviewed to confirm if they are eligible for the Morris American Indian Tuition Waiver.  They will receive whichever funding is most supportive of the student.

Does a student have to have a certain number of credits at a Tribal College before transfering to the University of Minnesota?

A student needs to have completed one full time semester at one of the four Minnesota Tribal Colleges.   Individual transfer considerations may vary by U of M campus and by college within the campus. If a student is admitted as a transfer student by a University of Minnesota campus from a Tribal College, they meet that requirement as a transfer student.   The other steps to be considered for the Native American Promise Tuition Program  -- completing a FAFSA, the Tribal Affiliation form and meeting the established household income levels all must be taken.

How recently would you have had to have taken credits at a MN Tribal College to be considered a transfer student?

The Tribal College must be the most recent college of enrollment to be eligible as a transfer student; timing gaps will be reviewed and considered on a case-by-case basis.   The other steps to be considered for the Native American Promise Tuition Program  -- be an admitted student to the U of M, complete a FAFSA and the Tribal Affiliation form and meet the established household income levels all must be taken.

Will students receive communication when their Native American Promise Tribal Affiliation Form has been received?

Students will receive an auto-response when we receive their Tribal Affiliation form, including the general timeline for the review process and when they can expect to be informed of a decision.