State, Tribe Increase Funds for Diné College

Feb 15th, 2002 | By | Category: 13-3: Sustaining Our Future, Tribal College News

For the past 33 years, tribal colleges have continually struggled financially because they lacked the core funding enjoyed by state universities and community colleges. Diné College has made significant progress, however, during the past three years, in attaining funding from tribal and state governments. In August 2001, the state of Arizona passed legislation providing sales tax revenues for universities and colleges in the state. It could potentially bring more than $4 million to the tribal college over the years from sales tax revenue collected on or near the Navajo Nation. The college will receive a minimum of $200,000 annually for 20 years, with an additional amount funded on a formula based on the number of students. The legislation allows some of the state’s new six-tenths of a cent sales tax to be used for workforce development.

Also last summer, the Navajo Nation Council doubled its appropriation for the college, allocating $2.1 million. The college will use the additional Navajo Nation funds to strengthen its community campus sites in the state.  President Cassandra Manuelito-Kerkvliet expressed her gratitude to the state and the tribal government. Based in Tsaile, AZ, Diné College has eight campuses, including two in New Mexico. It serves primarily the Navajo Nation, serving both Indian and non-Indian students. For copies of the legislation and information about the legislative strategy, contact the development office at Diné College (520) 724-6687.

In 1999, both Arizona and New Mexico lawmakers passed laws benefiting the college. The Arizona Legislature agreed to return a small portion of the Transaction Privilege Tax revenues collected on the Navajo Nation to Diné College to help improve its facilities. The college will receive $17.25 million over 10 years.

In New Mexico, voters approved a general obligation bond to support education throughout the state, including $1 million each for construction on two tribally-controlled college campuses, Diné College-Shiprock and Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute.

The states’ support for Diné College is very unusual. Although all tribal colleges accept students from throughout the community whether they are Indian or non-Indian, most of the states have consistently refused to provide any state support for tribal colleges. The other colleges rely primarily on the federal government for core support, which pays only for Indian students and which has only reached two-thirds of authorized funding, according to the American Indian Higher Education Consortium.

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