Report Urges Increased Funding for Tribal Colleges

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Tribal colleges serve as a vital link to higher education for Native American students, and thus deserve to receive adequate funding, argues a report released here last week by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

The federal government, as well as states, the broader higher education community, foundations, and corporations, should increase support for these institutions, the Princeton, N.J.-based organization says in "Native American Colleges: Progress and Prospects."

In a parallel effort, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation of Battle Creek, Mich., announced last week that it will commit $22.2 million over the next five years to the creation of learning opportunities for American Indians at both tribal colleges and mainstream universities.

Currently, 27 Indian higher education institutions in 10 states serve about 25,000 students, according to the report. Although these schools are controlled by Indian tribes, they receive public and private financial support.

The colleges serve a largely nontraditional student population, made up of many older women with children and many students who cannot afford to leave their reservations for higher education. And, yet, despite spending less per student than any other group of colleges in the country, the report says, the Indian colleges have had a measurable effect on students and their communities.

For example, on reservations where unemployment exceeds 60 percent, tribal college graduates have succeeded in the workforce. The employment rate for graduates of Crownpoint Institute of Technology in Crownpoint, N.M., for instance, is 85 percent.

The report's author, Paul Boyer, the son of the late Carnegie President Ernest L. Boyer, said that a primary concern for tribal colleges is the lack of full federal funding. Through the Tribally Controlled Community College Assistance Act of 1978, he noted, Congress authorized $5,820 per full-time Indian student, yet the current appropriation is only $2,860.

Despite lean budget times, Mr. Boyer said, Congress should commit to full funding of the colleges. "I know that the timing may seem awkward, but the need is so obviously clear."

Meanwhile, the Kellogg effort represents an addition to a $1.5 million grant given in 1995. It will target 30 Indian-controlled colleges, along with 30 to 40 mainstream institutions that enroll significant numbers of Native Americans.

For More Information:

Copies of "Native American Colleges: Progress and Prospects'' are available for $10 each from Jossey-Bass Inc., Publishers, 350 Sansome St., 5th Floor, San Francisco, Calif. 94104; (888) 378-2537; or by fax at (800) 605-2665.

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