JUNEAU, Alaska — The only federally recognized tribal college in Alaska announced tuition will be waived for all Alaska Native students starting next semester.

Pearl Brower, president of Ilisagvik College in Utqiagvik, said she hopes waiving tuition will boost the college’s native student enrollment, Alaska’s Energy Desk reported Thursday.

The college has one of the highest non-native enrollments among the nation’s tribal colleges and universities. It has about 700 total enrolled students each semester, just more than half of which are usually natives, Brower said.

The college offers associate degrees, vocational certificates, and short-term workforce development courses, plus a bachelor’s degree in business administration that just launched this fall.

The tuition waiver is also meant to encourage more Alaska Native students to finish their associate degrees and go on to a bachelor’s program, Brower said. That could translate to more natives being hired, especially in rural schools and businesses across the state, she said.

Students have expressed concern with the price of tuition, which for a full course load runs over $3,000, Brower said. Paying tuition is especially hard for online students who live in rural areas where there aren’t a lot of high-paying jobs.

The school is planning to cover the cost of the waiver internally, although the price will be defrayed by the Bureau of Indian Education, which gives the college money for each full course load being taken by Alaska Native or American Indian students.


Information from: KTOO-FM, http://www.ktoo.org

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