One North Dakota Tribal College Has A 0% Graduation Rate


A lot of ink (or bandwidth, to update the term) gets spilled over the poor performance of North Dakota’s eleven public universities, and that’s as it should be given the abysmal graduation rates and skyrocketing taxpayer expenditures/tuition costs. North Dakota simply isn’t being served that well by its university system.

But there are other universities in the state whose performance goes ignored. North Dakota is home to five tribal colleges, and they aren’t preforming very well according to college completion data compiled by the Chronicle of Higher Education. Tom Burnett, writing for the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy called the performance of tribal colleges nationally a “tragedy.”

That word would seem to apply in North Dakota as well.

Here’s a run-down:

Fort Berthold Community College

Located in New Town, ND, this two-year college has an enrollment of 215 students and a 150% graduation rate (meaning the number of students earning a two-year degree in three years) of just 12.8%. But that low graduation rate isn’t due to a lack of funding. The university is spending $179,879 per degree, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education which includes spending on “instruction, research, public service, student services, academic support, institutional support, operations, and maintenance.” By comparison, the biggest-spending state college in the state is UND at just over $97,000 per degree.

United Tribes Technical College

Located in Bismarck, ND, this is a two-year college which has an enrollment of 600 students. The three-year graduation rate for two-year degrees is just 19.2%, which isn’t far of the University of North Dakota’s four-year graduation rate of 21.1% and is the best out of the tribal colleges, but well below the state’s public two-year graduation rates which run around 33%. Again, spending per degree is enormous at over $104,000 per degree.

Cankdeska Cikana Community College

Located in Fort Totten, ND, this is a two-year college with an enrollment of 200 students spending $81,374 per degree and graduating just 7.4% of two-year students in three years.

Turtle Mountain Community College

Located in Belcourt, ND, this is a four-year institution with the largest enrollment out of any of the tribal colleges at 969 students. The college is spending $68,395 per degree, but has a 150% graduation rate (six years for a four year degree) that is, shockingly, 0%.

Sitting Bull Community College

Located in Fort Yates, ND, this is a four-year institution with an enrollment of 314 students. The institution is spending $60,224 per degree, and has a 150% graduation rate of 11.8%.

Altogether, what we’re seeing is lots of money spent, but few positive outcomes. Or a somewhat worse version of what we’re seeing at the state universities.