Equal Protection Project v. University of North Dakota (Tuition Waiver Program Open Only to Students in Specific Racial Groups Challenged)

Case Particulars


Office for Civil Rights, Department of Education

Date Filed

November 4, 2023

Docket No.


Case Status

OCR Complaint Filed

Case Overview

University of North Dakota (“UND”) had a racially discriminatory program program that reduced tuition for specific racial and ethnic groups for the purpose of achieving a “diverse student population.”


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, the university created, implemented and promoted a program called the Cultural Diversity Waiver that reduced eligible undergraduate students’ tuition by up to $2,750 per semester, or $5,500 per academic year. Only students who were “African American/Black, American Indian, Alaska Native, Asian American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, Latino/a/x, Hispanic American or Multiracial” were eligible for the program.  As such, CDW program was 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.

UND’s website currently indicates that the racially exclusionary language cited above has been removed, and has been replaced by language stating that eligibility is restricted to “[m]ember[s] of an underrepresented diverse group, which may include disability, indigenous status, ethnicity, race, and LGBTQ+.”