Financial Help Not Likely On Horizon For Tribal Colleges

Career College Central summary:

  • The Department of the Interior released a statement on a new plan to improve educational outcomes for Bureau of Indian Education-funded schools on June 13. Statistics show that the current system is failing American Indian/Alaskan Native (AI/AN) students, who lag behind other demographic groups. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average public high school graduation rate for all U.S. students has grown from 75 percent in 2007-08 to 81 percent in 2011-12. But for AI/ANs, the graduation rate only increased from 64 to 68 percent over the same period.
  • As students fall behind in high school, it is only a natural consequence that higher education would also elude them. Living on remote, rural reservations, college and universities are for the most part inaccessible to students constrained by low incomes.
  • Yet one solution to the relative isolation of AI/AN reservations already has been provided by the tribes themselves. A movement to develop tribal colleges and universities (TCUs) on or close to reservations gained strength in the 1960s and ’70s. Today, there are 32 fully accredited TCUs across the nation, offering accredited degrees, remedial learning and vocational training to AI/AN and non-AI/AN students alike.
  • Despite the great need and utility of such institutions, TCUs struggle with funding issues. Congress has authorized TCUs to receive $8,000 per AI/AN student, but most receive only $5,850 per student. By point of comparison, the federal government grants Howard University close to $22,000 per student, or $200 million annually, exclusive of the medical school.

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