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UCLA is part of the University of California system. (Photo/University of California)

Beginning this fall, American Indian and Alaska Native students who are tribal citizens of a federally recognized tribe will not have to pay for tuition or fees to attend the University of California.

In a letter dated April 22, 2022, University of California President Michael V. Drake, MD, said the university will launch in the UC Native American Opportunity Plan in the fall of 2022 that will allow tuition scholarships for California residents who are citizens of the federally recognized American Indian tribes.

The UC Native American Opportunity Plan will allow for in-state systemwide tuition and student services fees to be fully paid. According to Dr. Drake, the plan will be funded through existing state and university financial aid, as well as other resources.

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"The University of California is committed to recognizing and acknowledging historical wrongs endured by Native Americans," Dr. Drake writes in the letter. "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."

There are 109 federally recognized tribes out of 574 nationwide. California has the second largest population of American Indians and Alaska Natives in the United States.

The plan does not include state recognized tribes. Though funding may be available from external resources, according to the letter.

For the 2022-2023 school year, tuition for new undergraduate students who are residents of California is $13,104. The estimated average cost to attend a University of California institution as a new in-state student is $38,504, which includes housing, food, transportation and fees, according to the university.

Only .5 percent of the 45,000 University of California students enrolled in 2021 were Native American.

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