Western Oregon University offers in-state tuition to all Native American students

By Meerah Powell (OPB)
Aug. 31, 2022 8:52 p.m.

WOU joins other universities that have made similar moves this summer

Western Oregon University announced Wednesday that it will offer in-state tuition to anyone who is an enrolled member of a federally recognized tribe in the U.S.

Western is the fourth public university in the state to make the move, joining Portland State, Oregon State and Southern Oregon universities, which all made similar announcements this summer.


WOU was established in 1856, and is Oregon’s oldest public university. In its announcement, the university acknowledged the forced removal of the Kalapuya people from the region. The Western campus in Monmouth sits on their traditional homelands, according to the university.

“Boarding schools and then colleges and universities were built on Native American homelands. The educational system itself was often implemented as a tool used to destroy indigenous languages, communities, and cultures,” WOU President Jesse Peters said in a statement. “At Western, we want to provide more access to positive educational choices for citizens of Native Nations.”

Related: Interior Department leaders decry traumatic legacy of federal boarding schools for Native American children

At Western, annual tuition for an in-state student taking 15 credits per term is $8,730 this upcoming school year. For an out-of-state student taking the same number of credits, tuition is $28,710. Tuition is $13,095 for students in the Western Undergraduate Exchange — students coming to WOU from western states including California, Washington, Idaho and Nevada.

The tuition discounts for out-of-state students at WOU and other Oregon universities are in addition to the new Oregon Tribal Student Grant program. That program, approved by the state Legislature, will help cover tuition, housing and other costs for members of Oregon’s nine recognized tribes this upcoming school year.

In addition to that state grant program, Peters said: “We are also looking at additional ways to support members of the tribes located within what is now Oregon as they seek and complete degrees at WOU.”

A sign reads "Western Oregon University, Founded 1856."

Western Oregon University

Rob Manning / OPB