Nebraska Tribal College Will Receive State Support for Non-Indian Students

May 15th, 1991 | By | Category: 3-1: Making Connections, Tribal College News

Nebraska Governor Ben Nelson re­cently signed into law legislation that will provide state financial support of non-Indian students attending Nebraska Indian Community College in Winnebago.

Signed by Gov. Nelson on June 7 after being passed as an emergency act, the new law will provide close to $50,000 annually to the college. It is also an important acknowledgment of the role Nebraska’s one tribal college plays in the state’s higher education system.

“This funding should help educational opportunities in your area of Nebraska,” Gov. Nelson said in a letter to college President Thelma Thomas. “It should also improve the quality of life for all Nebraskans.”

Eight percent of Nebraska Indian Community College’s enrollment in 1990 was non-Indian. However, federal support to the institution — like most tribal colleges — is based only on its Indian student enrollment. Non-Indian students, while welcome, have been a financial burden on the college since tuition alone does not cover the full cost of the college’s education program.

Tribal college administrators across the country argue that their institutions play an important role in their states by providing education to Indians and non-Indians living in areas unserved by state university systems. Yet, until passage of LB 663 in Nebraska, no state was provid­ing support for non-Indian students in tribal colleges. A recent effort to secure state aid to tribal colleges in Montana was unsuccessful.

Aid to Nebraska Indian College will begin with the fall 1991 enrollment. Funding to the college, and to all other community colleges in the state, will be disbursed in “threshold minimum amounts.” This figure will be deter­mined by a complex formula based on the weighted measures of full-time equivalent students, which are called “reimbursable educational units.” It will also be determined by the levels of property tax revenues generated in the colleges’ geographic area in the preced­ing three year period.

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