A recent letter from President Michael V. Drake sent to all University of California chancellors confirms that California residents who are Native American, American Indian, and Alaska Native students from federally recognized tribes will have their tuitions paid “through existing state and university financial aid programs,” according to an article in the LA Times

Although there are over 100 federally recognized tribes in the United States, only 1.6% of Californians identify as Native American or Alaska Native. Of the 10 UC campuses enrolling students for the 2021-22 school year, less than 1% of them are Native American.

Loading the player...

“The University of California is committed to recognizing and acknowledging historical wrongs endured by Native Americans,” wrote President Drake. “I am proud of the efforts the University has made to support the Native American community, including the creation of the UC Native American Opportunity Plan, and appreciate our conversations to date on all the ways in which we can better support Native American students.”

The recent move comes as part of the UC Native American Opportunity Plan, which hopes to make University of California schools accessible and affordable to Native American students. 

According to CNN:

“In a jointly written op-ed that is not yet published, professors Randall Akee, Phenocia Bauerle, Paul Ong and Desi Small-Rodriguez wrote that they hope to see other land-grant universities follow UC’s lead.

‘The UC system is leading the way in acknowledging its place and role in educating Indigenous people,’ they wrote in excerpts shared with CNN by Akee. ‘It is our hope that this new program will be a call to action to other public, land-grant institutions in the US. In the absence of similar programs in other locations, the UC system as a whole will gain a significant advantage in recruiting the best and brightest AIAN students from around the country.’”

Although students from non-federally recognized tribes will have to pursue third-party scholarships, the UC Native American Opportunity Plan represents a huge step in the right direction, especially with this most recent policy development.

In his statement, President Drake wrote, “I am hopeful that this new program will benefit our students and continue to position the University of California as the institution of choice for Native American students.”