A little-known program at the University of Maine provides tuition, fees, and accommodation to undergraduate or graduate students ?who can prove membership in a state or federally recognized tribe or can prove direct descent from a member? (1)–and this tuition waiver is also available to members of recognized Canadian tribes.
Currently, there are about 500 students enrolled in the University of Maine system through the waiver, known as The University of Maine Native American Waiver and Scholarship Program. The program was established in 1934, and in 1971 was extended ?to include all North American Indians? (1).
Applicants living outside Maine must reside in the state for one year before applying to the program. However, students who attend the university while fulfilling their 12-month residency requirement ?may be eligible for a special incentive scholarship, reducing their first year of tuition to in-state rates? (2).
The university campus is also home to the Wabanaki Center, which studies Maine’s four largest tribes: the Penobscot, Micmac, Passamaquoddy, and Maliseet.
According to Shaerri Mitchell, a graduate student, the Wabanaki Center provides a welcoming environment for aboriginal students, particularly those whose university experience may be their first time away from a small community. ?It’s a safe place,? she says. ?It provides students with a set of relations within the university community? (1).
More information about the waiver program can be found in the university’s Fact Sheet at http://factsheets.umaine.edu/UWP/12-NAS%20WS.pdf
(1) New York Times, 2007. ?With Tuition Waiver, Maine Invests in Its ?First People?.? Retrieved June 2, 2007, from http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/28/us/28maine.html?_r=1&oref=slogin
(2) University of Maine. Native American Waiver and Scholarship Program Fact Sheet. Retrieved June 2, 2007, from http://factsheets.umaine.edu/UWP/12-NAS%20WS.pdf