February 10th, 2014 Last Updated on: February 10th, 2014
American Indians from 48 tribes would be eligible for in-state college tuition anywhere in Colorado under a bill that advanced Wednesday at the Legislature.
Rep. Joe Salazar, D-Thornton, said his bill will help Native American students graduate. They are among the least likely demographic groups to attend college.
“We spend a considerable amount of time recruiting students to come here, but they don’t stay because of money,” Salazar said.
His House Bill 1124 would allow students from any tribe with historic ties to Colorado to qualify for in-state tuition at any of the state’s public colleges and universities.
The House Education Committee approved it on a 9-4 vote.
The lone exception to Salazar’s bill would be Fort Lewis College, which already grants free tuition to Native Americans, regardless of their tribes’ historic links to the state. Right now, the state spends about $15 million a year on the Native American Tuition Waiver at FLC.
FLC officials have talked about HB 1124, but they don’t think it will have a negative effect on Native American recruitment at the Durango campus, said Steve Schwartz, vice president of finance and administration.
“At Fort Lewis, it’s still free. We still have that price benefit that the other schools don’t,” he said.
In any case, with so few American Indian students attending college, there are plenty of potential students to go around, he said.
“If it helps Native American students to get educated, then that’s a positive for the Native population,” Schwartz said.
Read more on the story from The Durango Herald.
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