Bismarck State College – Cultural Diversity Waiver

Case Particulars


Office for Civil Rights, Department of Education

Date Filed

October 23, 2023

Docket No.


Case Status

OCR Complaint Filed

Case Overview

Bismarck State College offered a racially discriminatory tuition waiver program with the goal of reducing tuition for specific racial and ethnic groups and to encourage “enrollment of a culturally diverse student body for the benefit of all students and the academic community.”


In 2021, the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education promulgated a policy that institutions of higher education in the state would be “encouraged” to “provide for … [a] waiver of tuition and fees …. to promote enrollment of a culturally diverse student body.” Based on this authority, BSC created, implemented and promoted a program called the Cultural Diversity Waiver that reduces eligible undergraduate students’ tuition by $1,250 per semester. To be eligible for the tuition reduction, students must be “African American/Black, Alaska Natives, Asian American, Hispanic, Native American, Native Hawaiian, Latino/a/x, Multiracial, [or] Pacific Islander.” The CDW program is only available to non-white applicants.


Equal Protection Project is the Complainant in this matter, which is under evaluation by the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights.