AIHEC is a unique—and uniquely American Indian—organization. It was founded in 1973 by the presidents of the nation’s first six Tribal Colleges, as an informal collaboration among member colleges. Today, AIHEC represents 37 Tribal Colleges and Universities in the United States; and our member institutions serve over 27,000 students from more than 250 tribal nations.

AIHEC serves the mutual needs of its members by:
  1. fostering the development and maintenance of the highest standards of quality education for American Indians and Alaska Natives by improving accessibility of education programs;
  2. increasing the amount of funding and expanding the number of public and private sector funding sources to obtain the highest level of financial support to our TCUs;
  3. serving as a liaison between TCUs and the Federal government
  4. conducting research and data collection activities to support TCUs development and programs;
  5. gaining public recognition and support of TCUs nationally;
  6. meeting the critical technical assistance needs of our members;
  7. promoting leadership within the TCUs movement;
  8. expanding opportunities through technology;
  9. encouraging greater participation by American Indians in the development of higher education policy; and
  10. increasing involvement with international higher education organizations to facilitate the exchange of information and ideas among indigenous groups.
How to Become a TCU Member

The Establishing a Tribally Controlled College or University document shows that the process of establishing a tribally controlled college or university is a flexible procedure and offers guidance to those interested in the development of a TCU providing five major phases that capture the major considerations in the establishment of a TCU.

Our Membership Handbook outlines the process of membership into AIHEC, including the application, criteria, membership responsibilities, and the benefits of becoming an AIHEC member. AIHEC prides itself on developing and maintaining high performance standards. Membership requirements are posed, not as barriers, but as incentives for developing and setting similar high standards among all of our member institutions. Your future participation in AIHEC will help to contribute to and ensure our success on behalf of all Indian people.