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Oregon Tech offers in-state tuition to all Native American students

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OIT joins SOU and three other public universities in Oregon that have made the same decision

As the start of fall term began Monday for most of Oregon’s public colleges and universities, the Oregon Institute of Technology made an announcement aimed at benefiting Native American students across the country.

OIT announced that all enrolled members of federally-recognized Native American tribes will qualify for in-state tuition at the university, starting this week, regardless of where they live. Oregon Tech’s announcement follows four other schools in the state that have also made this decision — Portland State University, Oregon State University, Southern Oregon University and Western Oregon University.

Out-of-state Native American students who qualify for the in-state tuition rate could save up to $10,000 per term depending on the number of credits they’re taking and their major, according to OIT.

“Oregon Tech has been furthered by tribal culture and heritage and from the tribal lands on which our campuses reside,” OIT president Nagi Naganathan said in a statement Monday. “We are honored that many Native American students call Oregon Tech their educational home, and we are happy to make the opportunity to attend Oregon Tech more affordable for out-of-state tribal students who are enrolled members of federally recognized Native American tribes.”

The other four universities in Oregon that also announced in-state tuition rates for Native American students did so during the summer, after most application and enrollment deadlines had passed. For that reason, it’s not clear yet how the new policies may affect enrollment from out-of-state Native American students. But, some of the universities say the program is drawing attention.

“We are excited to share that there is already interest in our [Native American Tuition program], particularly in light of how recently we made the announcement,” Paula Baldwin, Western Oregon University’s interim marketing director told OPB.

Baldwin said WOU has eight prospective student applicants who have noted they are members of federally-recognized tribes — four from Oregon and four from out of state.

“We are very early in our recruitment process for Fall of 2023, and we expect both those numbers to increase,” Baldwin said.

According to Portland State, there has been a “big uptick” in inquiries this fall, but the university says the real measure will be next fall since the majority of students had already made college decisions long before PSU’s new policy was announced.

Southern Oregon University says it reached out to about 70 existing students who identify as Native American to let them know about the in-state rates and to see if they qualify. The university also has three incoming enrolled students who qualified for the in-state tuition, and it says there are a few more incoming qualified students that may enroll.

These individual announcements are separate from the state’s new Oregon Tribal Student Grant program. That statewide program covers tuition and living costs for Oregonians who are members of one of the state’s nine federally-recognized tribes.

Copyright 2022 Oregon Public Broadcasting. To see more, visit Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Meerah Powell is a general assignment and breaking news reporter for OPB. She previously worked as a news reporter and podcast producer for Eugene Weekly in her hometown of Eugene, Oregon. Along with writing and audio work, Meerah also has experience with photography and videography. She graduated from the University of Oregon's School of Journalism and Communication.