New CMSI Report Broadens Dialogue on Native American Serving, Non-Tribal Institutions and Their Students

Philadelphia, November 20, 2015—The Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions (CMSI) has published a new report on Native American Serving, Non-Tribal Institutions (NASIs). The report, Fostering Empowerment: Supporting Student Success at Native American Serving, Non-Tribal Institutions, provides one of the very first overviews of these institutions, which were only recently recognized as an official minority serving designation in 2008 by the US Department of Education.

There are currently 18 NASIs located in rural areas that serve over 13,500 American Indian Alaska Native (AIAN) students. The report gives detailed statistics about each of the 18 NASIs and their students and offers analysis that situates the institutions within the wider context of higher education public policy.

 “I hope that this report serves as a means to recognize the important and critical role that Native American Serving, Non-Tribal Institutions are making within the higher education minority serving institutions umbrella,” said Angela Rochat, author of the report and CMSI Fellow.

In addition to increasing the exposure of these institutions, the report also offers policy recommendations to help strengthen NASIs’ ability to serve their predominantly underrepresented and low-income students. For example, the report contends that data collection measures must be improved for AIAN students and also calls for revised language in federal policies to clarify ambiguity regarding Native education. 

Despite serving similar student populations and having comparable ties to Native communities, NASIs differ from Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) because they are mainly public institutions that enroll at least 10 percent Native American undergraduate students. TCUs, on the other hand, are reservation based and tribally controlled with a mission to preserve tribal languages and cultures. The report suggests that clarifying the language in federal policies would help improve collaboration between NASIs and TCUs.

The report adds that nearly 100 additional institutions may be eligible for NASI designation. Further investment in and advocacy for these institutions would help address urgent AIAN education needs in areas such as capital financing, master’s degree development, STEM articulation and programs, minority research training grants, and minority science and engineering programs.

Full copies of report are freely available at CMSI’s website.


About The Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions

The Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions brings together researchers and practitioners from Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges and Universities, Hispanic Serving Institutions, and Asian American, Native American, and Pacific Islander Serving Institutions. The Center’s goals include: elevating the educational contributions of MSIs; ensuring that they are a part of national conversations; bringing awareness to the vital role MSIs play in the nation’s economic development; increasing the rigorous scholarship of MSIs; connecting MSIs’ academic and administrative leadership to promote reform initiatives; and strengthening efforts to close educational achievement gaps among disadvantaged communities. For further information about the Center, please visit


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Penn GSE is one of the nation’s premier research education schools. No other education school enjoys a university environment as supportive of practical knowledge building as the Ivy League’s University of Pennsylvania. The School is notably entrepreneurial, launching innovative degree programs for practicing professionals, unique partnerships with local educators, and the first-ever business plan competition devoted exclusively to educational products and programs. For further information about Penn GSE, please visit