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Tribal Colleges - Not Just for Native Americans

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Friday, January 26, 2007   

North Dakota lawmakers are considering a proposal to help non-tribal members attend classes at one of the state's five Native American Colleges. Right now, only enrolled members of the tribes are eligible for financial aid. But House Bill 1395 would allocate money to educate so-called non-beneficiary students. Comments form Turtle Mountain College president Jim Davis, and Turtle Mt. alumnus Amy Tailfus. (TALE-fuss)

Schools like the Turtle Mountain Community College lose money when students like Amy Tailfus attend classes there. That's because she's not an enrolled member of the tribe and isn't eligible for the same kind of federal financial aid that tribal members are. And college president Jim Davis says they're not in the habit of turning students away, so they end up absorbing the expense. That's why he and other members of the North Dakota Association of Tribal Colleges are urging state lawmakers to provide funding for non-beneficiary students attending tribal colleges.

"That wasn't really the intention to get funding so we can attract more students. If we get more students, great. You know, but I think it's only an effort basically to help the tribal colleges defray some of the costs to educate the non-beneficiary students."

House Bill 1395 allocates $700-thousand per biennium for non-beneficiary students. Davis says it would probably only come down to about $2-thousand per student... which is quite a bit less than the $46-hundred they're getting for native students now. He says the State Board of Higher Educationand the North Dakota Education Association have come out in favor of the proposal.

For students like Amy Tailfus of St. John, the availability of a Tribal school makes going to college a practical reality.

"If I would have gone anywhere else, the closest school would have probably been in Bottineau and that would have been about a 40-mile trip one way compared to only driving 14 miles both ways to come to college here."

The state's five tribal colleges are looking for some financial help to educate students who are non-tribal members.. Debbie Aasen (Ah-son).



Jim Davis is at 701-477-7865.





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