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April 10, 2015


Diné College Puts the Finishing Touch on Dual Credit Initiative


TSAILE, AZ- Students in Arizona will soon have a tribal college choice in gaining dual college credit while still in high school.


Administrators from Diné College, Tohono O'Odham Community College (TOCC) from Sells, AZ and Navajo Technical College (NTU) from Crownpoint, NM recently meet with the Arizona Department of Education to formally outline the parameters for the three Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCU's) to begin offering dual credit classes to high school students living with the college’s service areas.  These efforts enable Diné College to set up 27 master agreements with schools in and around the Navajo Nation and with the Phoenix Indian Center.

The TCU’s Dual Credit programs allow high school students to take college courses at eligible institutions while still in enrolled in high school at no cost to the students.  The classes are taught at their home schools by adjunct faculty approved by the credit granting higher education institutions.  Students are limited to approved courses, which vary by college.  Diné College classes in Phoenix are limited to Navajo 101 and Navajo Government, which will enable students to be eligible to apply for the Chief Manuelito Scholarship.  


The Dual Credit program is popular because they allow high school students to get a jump-start in gaining college credits.  Megan Begaye, Many Farms High School student states, “not only is it one step closer to getting my required credits, but it is [also] a wake-up call to what college will be like. The Dual Credit Program put the college experience into high school.”  Pinion High School student, Sidney Nelson agrees, “A dual credit course will show colleges and universities that I challenge myself to learn more."


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Diné College Dual Credit Classroom on the Navajo Nation.  

Photo by Patrick Blackwater


The higher education dual credit initiative was first introduced in Arizona 2000 for all community colleges and universities within the state’s higher education system.  Since the Arizona TCU’s are not part of that system, they were unable to offer dual credit programs at their institutions until this year.


In early 2014, standalone legislation was introduced by Arizona Representative Jamescita Peshlakai (D).  In early March 2015, the legislation passed that allows the three Arizona TCU’s to create and fund dual credit programs specifically for their own institutions. 


Funding for dual credit programs at non-TCU programs in Arizona are locally funded by participating school districts.  Since Arizona’s three TCU’s are not part of the state’s higher education system, they are not eligible for local funding. 


Once the initial dual credit legislation was signed into law, further Arizona legislation was passed providing funding for the program with unclaimed lottery money. Those funds are used to offset the $55 per credit hour cost for high school students to enroll in college courses at the TCU’s.


Diné College and NTU service students living in Arizona and New Mexico, but will use the unclaimed lottery funds to offset costs for students in Arizona only.  New Mexico already allows Diné College and NTU to offer dual credit to high school students. 


New Mexico State Senator John Pinto (D) pushed through the dual credit legislation in 2011 for the state’s consortium of TCU’s to offer dual credit programs.  The consortium is comprised of Diné College, NTU, Institute of American Indian Arts and Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute.  Funding for the New Mexico TCU programs is provided through the state’s “Tribal College Dual Credit Program Fund” and uses the same $55 per credit hour rate for students. 


Diné College History

Diné College was established in 1968 as the first tribally-controlled community college in the United States. Under the direction of an eight-member Board of Regents confirmed by the Government Services Committee of the Navajo Nation Council, Diné College has the responsibility to serve residents of the 26,000 square mile Navajo Nation which spans the states of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

As a postsecondary educational institution, Diné College awards 17 associate degrees, four certificates and two bachelor degrees.

Diné College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. The college holds memberships in the Rocky Mountain, Arizona, New Mexico, Pacific, and American Associations of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers; the American Indian Higher Education Consortium; and the Association of American Junior and Community Colleges.