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Status and Trends in the Education of American Indians and Alaska Natives: 2008

NCES 2008-084
September 2008

Tribally Controlled Colleges


Total enrollment in tribally controlled colleges was over 17,000 in fall 2006.

Figure 6.2. Enrollment in tribally controlled colleges: Fall 1997 through fall 2006
Enrollment in tribally controlled colleges: Fall 1997 through fall 2006
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Digest of Education Statistics, 2007, based on Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), "Fall Enrollment Survey," 1997 through 1999, and Spring 2001 through Spring 2007.

In 2006, there were 32 tribally controlled colleges and universities. They were located in 12 states; the majority were scattered across the West and Midwest, and one was located in Alaska. Seven of these colleges and universities were 4-year institutions, and 25 were 2-year institutions.

Tribally controlled colleges and universities share many characteristics with each other that differentiate them from most colleges and universities. Tribally controlled colleges and universities are designed to foster environments focused on American Indian culture in order to preserve, enhance, and promote American Indian languages and traditions (Cahalan et al. 1998). They are intended to create learning opportunities for students with unique needs. For example, students at these institutions are generally older than 24 years of age. Also, tribally controlled colleges may function as community resources, providing social services to reservations in isolated areas (American Indian Higher Education Consortium 2005).

The total enrollment in tribally controlled colleges and universities increased by 23 percent, from 14,100 in fall 2001 to 17,300 in fall 2006 (appendix table A-6.2). In 2006, some 13,600 students in tribally controlled colleges and universities were American Indian/Alaska Native, representing 79 percent of total enrollment. Eight percent of all American Indian/Alaska Native college students were enrolled in tribally controlled colleges and universities.1 American Indian/Alaska Native enrollment in tribally controlled colleges and universities increased at a faster rate between 2001 and 2006 than did American Indian/Alaska Native college and university enrollment generally (17 percent vs. 15 percent; data not shown).

View Table View Table 6.2

1 181,100 American Indian/Alaska Natives were enrolled in degree-granting institutions (Table A-6.1a) of which 13,600 were enrolled in tribally controlled colleges and universities (Table 6.2).

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