We posted Saturday about a proposal by a Colorado legislator to save state money by trimming its free tuition – guaranteed by a federal trust program – to Native students at Fort Lewis College.
The college, a former boarding school in southwestern Colorado. In 1911 it was turned over to the U.S. Interior Department to be “maintained by the state as an institution of learning to which Indian students will be admitted free of tuition and on an equality with white students.”
Indian Country Today has this expanded piece about the possible effect of those cuts. As Carol Berry writes:
Proposed by the state is a cut of $3,000 in its reimbursement rate to the college for 2011 tuition for out-of-state Native students, constituting a $1.8 million reduction. It would be coupled with a proposed overall cut to the college of about $4 million which the state calculated at a 31 percent rate, higher than the 21 percent average reduction rate for other colleges in the state, officials said.
The tuition proposal would “essentially punish the college for upholding the agreement between the state and federal government to provide Native American students with a free education,” said Mitch Davis, the college’s public information officer. The cuts would have “a severe negative impact on all students.”
State Rep. Karen Middleton, D-Aurora, who is proposing the bill, denies it would have a detrimental effect on Native students.
Berry’s story points out that the Colorado Legislature tried nearly 40 years ago to limit the waivers for in-state Native students, but that the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court which had held that such action would constitute a breach of contract by the state.