Alumni of Tribal Colleges and Universities Better Their Communities

Alumni of Tribal Colleges and Universities Better Their Communities

Native Americans who graduate from tribal colleges and universities (TCUs) — affordable, culturally relevant institutions of higher education chartered by tribes and located on or near Native reservations — are more likely to have received greater support from mentors and have graduated debt-free, and to report having a strong sense of well-being, than their Native and non-Native peers who graduate from other institutions, a report from the American Indian College Fund and Gallup finds. Based on a survey of nearly six hundred alumni of nine TCUs and comparison surveys of nearly twenty-five hundred college graduates across the United States, nearly three thousand graduates of minority-serving institutions (MSIs), and more than a thousand American Indian/Alaska Native non-TCU graduates, the report found that 11 percent of TCU alumni reported a "strong and consistent" sense of well-being in all five categories tracked — physical, community, financial, social, and career — compared with 7 percent of other Native graduates, 6 percent of MSI graduates, and 6 percent of graduates nationally. According to the report, Alumni of Tribal Colleges and Universities Better Their Communities (29 pages, PDF), TCU graduates also reported "thriving" at higher rates than other groups in every individual category of well-being except physical. And they give back to their communities through their work at higher rates than their peers, with 74 percent of TCU graduates who are employed full-time pursuing careers in fields related to American Indian communities or tribal land, and nearly four in ten working directly for their tribes. The survey also found that 43 percent of TCU graduates had three critical supports in college — a professor who cared about them as a person, a professor who got them excited about learning, and a mentor who encouraged them to pursue their goals and dreams — compared with 21 percent of Native non-TCU graduates, 19 percent of MSI graduates, and 18 percent of graduates overall; that TCU graduates were more likely than Native non-TCU graduates to have participated in multiple forms of experiential learning (9 percent vs. 6 percent); and that TCU graduates were less likely than college graduates nationally to have taken out student loans (3 percent vs. 19 percent) and more likely to say their education was worth the cost (67 percent vs. 39 percent).