Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff has announced that tuition will be covered for any student who is a member of one of Arizona’s 22 federally recognized tribes, starting in the Fall 2023 semester.
First-time undergraduate students and transfer students who enroll at any NAU campus may qualify for the program.
With the goal of being the leading institution of higher learning serving Indigenous peoples, NAU President José Luis Cruz Rivera said that the university recognized that sending a clear, unambiguous message that Native American students were welcome at NAU, and that they would receive the financial support needed to succeed, should be their first course of action.
“NAU has a long-standing commitment to Indigenous peoples and to the state of Arizona, most recently codified as a major priority in our NAU 2025 – Elevating Excellence strategic roadmap,” said Cruz Rivera. “We conducted the requisite consultation process with our Native American stakeholders, evaluated the legal issues that would need to be addressed in the design of the financial aid program, and modeled the financial impacts to the institution.”
Cruz Rivera said that the result of the process was a model financial aid program designed to benefit Native American students from the tribes in Arizona without regard to family income, state of residence, or existing tribal scholarships prospective students already may have earned.
“University aid dollars will fill any gaps after university scholarships or Pell Grant funds to fully cover tuition. Students who earn tribal scholarships can use that money for fees, housing, meals or books,” said Anika Olsen, NAU vice president for enrollment management.
Ann Marie Chischilly, NAU vice president of Native American initiatives, said that the university has received a tremendous response from many of the tribal nations throughout Arizona, expressing their gratitude for the program. “This new opportunity will change the tribal nations throughout Arizona by allowing students to pursue their dreams and support not only their lives, but also the lives of their families and communities,” said Chischilly. “When you educate one person, you educate a community, and those benefits reverberate over and over.”