DULUTH -- The University of Minnesota plans to extend “substantial financial support,” including in many cases completely free tuition, to enrolled members of the state’s 11 federally recognized tribal nations beginning next fall.

University of Minnesota President Joan Gabel announced the creation of the Native American Promise Tuition Program in a memo to the state’s tribal leaders, calling it a “significant expansion of Native American student tuition support.”

The new program expands on a tuition waiver program for American Indian students that’s long been in place at the University’s Morris campus, where more than 6,000 waivers have been awarded since Morris joined the U of M system in 1960.

Starting in the fall of 2022, the program will be expanded to the remaining four system campuses, although it’s still unclear which students will be eligible for free tuition. It will apply to first-year undergraduate students and transfers from tribal colleges.

In the memo, Gabel called the expansion a “significant achievement” and said it will place the U of M’s program “among the nation’s most comprehensive free and reduced tuition programs for Native American students.”