The impact of the tribal college movement on Native American educational attainment

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Letters & Science


This paper looks at the effects of tribal colleges and universities (TCUs) on Native American educational attainment. Using a difference-in-difference-in difference model, this paper attempts to isolate the effects of these schools on Native Americans living in states with TCUs. First, the results offer evidence that TCUs' effects are not evenly distributed across age groups or between the sexes. The findings show that these schools have significant positive effects on associate's degree attainment for older Native Americans, increasing associate's degree attainment by three percent for Native Americans 35 to 55 while not significantly increasing associate's degree attainment for 25 to 55 year olds. There is also evidence that TCUs lower bachelor's degree attainment levels for Native Americans. An additional TCU per 10,000 Native Americans per state lowers bachelor's degree attainment by 4 to 14 percent for 25 to 55 year olds and by 0 to 13 percent for 35 to 55 year olds. This negative effect appears to be disproportionately felt by Native American men. This paper also finds that TCUs do not appear to significantly increase or decrease the overall years of education for Native Americans in TCU states.




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