Three members of Colorado’s congressional delegation are seeking to ease the financial burden on states for providing tuition-free higher education to Native Americans.
Senators Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner and Representative Scott Tipton recently introduced legislation to address long-standing agreements that require states to offer a tuition-free education for Native Americans at certain institutions, such as Fort Lewis College in Durango. According to a release, the agreement at Fort Lewis covered just a few dozen students when it was implemented in 1910. But today more than 1100 American Indian and Alaska Native students from across the country attend Fort Lewis and the state of Colorado bears much of the $16 million annual cost. The new bill would keep the tuition-waiver program for Native Americans but direct the U.S. Department of Education to cover those costs for out-of-state students. In a release, Tipton said the bill will allow the nation to continue fulfilling its treaty obligations with American Indians while helping state budgets.