Georgetown University students in Washington DC have voted in favour of a reparations fund to repay descendents of slaves sold by the school in 1838.
A "Reconciliation Contribution" fee of $27.20 each semester will benefit descendents of the 272 slaves.
Undergraduate students passed the referendum with a 66 per cent majority, but the measure requires approval by the university.
Georgetown is the first major college to pass such a reparations fund.
The university's elections commission reported that almost 60 per cent of students turned out to vote on Thursday.
The fee amount was chosen to remember the 272 enslaved people sold, but also so that it would not be too large of an increase in tuition.
If approved by the university board, the fund will go towards charitable purposes benefitting the descendants of those slaves, many of whom now live in Louisiana and Maryland.
Critics of the fund say it is an arbitrary amount that will not address any real issues, or that it should be the burden of the institution, not the students, to repay descendants of slaves.
Some students have said it is an unjust moral imposition on them to make the fee mandatory.