Many Native American students will receive free tuition at the University of California starting in the fall semester.

In a letter sent to UC chancellors, President Michael V. Drake said that tuition will be covered for all California residents from federally recognized Native American, American Indian and Alaska Native tribes through existing state and university financial aid programs. Scholarships for residents from the state’s non-federally recognized tribes may be available through other organizations.

“The University of California is committed to recognizing and acknowledging historical wrongs endured by Native Americans,” Drake wrote. “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.”

Tuition at UC is roughly $13,100 for California residents.

There are more than 100 federally recognized tribes in California. About 1.6% of Californians identify as Native American or Alaska Native, according to the U.S. census. Data for fall 2021 enrollment at the 10 campuses show that less than 1% of UC’s more than 290,000 students identify as American Indian or Native American.

“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,” Drake wrote.

In 2021, UC Berkeley removed the name of a former professor from one of its buildings because the namesake was an anthropologist whose work included the “immoral and unethical” collection of Native American remains.

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