Campus Reform | FREE tuition...only for Black and Native American students?

FREE tuition...only for Black and Native American students?

An Oregon school is offering free tuition for Black and Native American students.

When asked how the school would pay for the plan, a college spokesman told Campus Reform that officials will "figure it out."

A small university began offering free tuition to all Black and Native American students.

Wayfinding Academy in Portland, Oregon — which offers a two-year community college degree intended as an alternative to the traditional university experience — announced its new “Free Tuition Initiative.”

“If you’re a Black or Native American student living in Oregon, and if Wayfinding Academy is a good fit for you, you can now attend our college tuition free,” said the school’s announcement. “This is our Free Tuition Initiative and it will be offered every year moving forward.”

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For the normal student, tuition costs $11,000 per year, not including room, board, and other expenses. The college’s website states that students who demonstrate financial need might be eligible for scholarships ranging between $1,000 and $2,500.

The college is emphasizing Black and Native American students because “they have been disproportionately impacted by Oregon’s white supremacist history and because college debt is a major factor in the racial wealth gap in this country.”

The free tuition offer will be available “effective immediately.”

“It is also our goal to expand this program in scope to include the broader BIPOC community in the years ahead to include more individuals,” continued the announcement. “We are currently putting multiple things in place to help make this happen as soon as possible.”

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Wayfinding Academy is officially approved as a private postsecondary institution by Oregon’s Higher Education Coordinating Commission. 

Its unorthodox approach to education includes a set of nine core classes “designed to cultivate good humans.” Each year’s course offerings are selected “according to student interests.”

Wayfinding Academy Communications Manager Ty Adams told Campus Reform that the school has no concrete plans for funding the scholarship program, but will “figure it out." 

There are currently two students benefiting from the program, which the university is financing by pulling from its general fund. Two additional students will begin to benefit in the near future.

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Michelle Jones, founder and president of Wayfinding Academy, told Campus Reform that the program would “not increase tuition for non-Black or Native students.”

Wayfinding Academy desires to be able to sponsor at least one-third of each graduating class with the scholarship. The school has twenty students in each class and forty-five students in total.

Campus Reform has reported on several instances of universities enacting race-based initiatives. For instance, Western Michigan University recently charged a lower fee to Black-owned businesses for its annual student fair. 

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @BenZeisloft