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SSTAR Lab project will connect Native students with financial support

May 16, 2023 By Karla Weber Wandel

The University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Student Success Through Applied Research Lab is launching a new project to connect Native students with financial support for postsecondary education.

Though a growing number of state systems, public and private colleges and universities currently offer in-state tuition or tuition waivers to Native students based on their tribal affiliations, there is no one place that college-going students can access up-to-date and complete information.

Through a two-year, $520,000 grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, SSTAR will conduct a policy scan of federal, state and institutional policies and programs to develop a comprehensive, publicly available dataset and web-based tool identifying programs that provide financial relief to Indigenous students.

Nick Hillman

Nick Hillman, UW–Madison professor and director of the SSTAR Lab

Prof. Nicholas Hillman, SSTAR Lab’s director, and his team will collaborate on the two-year project with co-lead Gresham Collom of St. Cloud State University.

Specifically, this project is expected to produce a searchable database that identifies funding programs specifically supporting Indigenous students based on Tribal affiliation(s). The project will also produce a comprehensive, downloadable dataset for policymakers and researchers interested in developing and studying these types of programs.

“As a public institution guided by the Wisconsin Idea, it’s our responsibility to be part of the solution when it comes to reducing disparities in higher education, especially among Indigenous students,” says Hillman, a professor with the School of Education’s Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis. “We are proud to be part of this work that will open doors for Native college-going students across the country.”

Gresham Collom

Gresham Collom, St. Cloud State University professor and co-lead on the project

SSTAR Lab will partner with UW–Madison’s Great Lakes Indigenous Law Center to ensure accurate reading of included policies and to anticipate any issues that may arise around future legal rulings. UW’s Applied Population Lab will also serve as a resource and partner in creating the online tool, similar to the resource APL created for SSTAR Lab’s Mapping Rural Colleges project.

SSTAR Lab, a research-practice partnership embedded in the Division of Enrollment Management, seeks to produce and elevate research to reduce barriers, improve equity and support student success in higher education through intentional partnerships with practitioners and policymakers in the field.