Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs)
For over 50 years, tribal colleges and universities (TCUs) have provided a path for American Indian students to access a higher education and opportunity.
Diné College was the first, founded in 1969 during the Civil Rights era. Today the American Indian College Fund supports 35 tribal colleges and universities (TCUs).
These higher education institutions all have three basic criteria: they must be tribally chartered, their boards must be comprised of a majority of Native Americans, and the student body must be comprised of a majority (51%) of Native Americans.
TCUs serve Native students seeking a higher education as well as others living in the remote, rural communities where TCUs are located. These higher education institutions also provide important services to entire American Indian communities including health education, childcare, health centers, and computer centers, libraries, Indigenous research and language preservation classes, and serve as the hub for community activities and lifelong learning.
The first six tribal colleges founded the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) to maintain common standards of quality in American Indian education; support the development of new TCUs; promote and assist in developing legislation to support American Indian higher education; and encourage greater participation by Native peoples to develop higher education policy.
The American Indian College Fund was created in 1989 by AIHEC to raise scholarship funds and funding for TCUs. The College Fund raises millions of dollars for scholarships, campus infrastructure, and programming such as research, language preservation, early childhood education, mentoring, internships, and student success.
TCUs allow Native students to earn a higher education from an accredited institution in or near the reservation communities they call home. Their cultures, traditions, and Native experiences are woven into the curriculum and institutions, providing a supportive space for learning.