Senators Form Task Force for Tribal Colleges

Aug 15th, 2002 | By | Category: 14-1: Honoring Our Students, Tribal College News

The Bipartisan Senate Task Force on Tribal Colleges and Universities convened its first meeting on May 21 on Capitol Hill with a record number of attendees interested in furthering Congress’ commitment to Indian higher education. Co-chaired by U.S. Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) and Conrad Burns (R-MT), the task force is charged with exploring ways to increase current funding and to seek new opportunities for funding basic operations, as well as other critical issues at tribal colleges and universities (TCUs).

“The commitment to further educational opportunities – that commitment is deep,” said Sen. Conrad. “This task force should give attention to that need…and not only that need, but the promise.”

The most critical issue for the nation’s tribal colleges is to correct serious funding disparities in fundamental institutional operations support. Under the Tribally Controlled College or University Assistance Act (P.L. 95-471), the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) seeks increasing the actual funding from the present $3,916 per Indian student to the Congressionally authorized $6,000 per Indian student.

Additionally, increased funding for technical assistance is essential to keep pace with research and data collection needed to comply with escalating reporting and accountability requirements and to fuel further efforts. The collective enrollments of the nation’s 32 tribal colleges and universities include approximately 20% non-Indian students. Those schools absorb the costs associated with educating that portion of their student body due to a lack of state support.

“Our goal is to solidify institutional operating funds for the tribal colleges, so that the schools’ efforts can concentrate on offering a quality education to the over 30,000 students enrolled annually,” said AIHEC Executive Director Dr. Gerald Gipp. “We’ve never asked for any more than that received by other similar higher educational institutions, and other community colleges around the country have access to many more resources than the tribal colleges do.”

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