New Colorado Law Granting In-State Tuition To Native Americans

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DENVER, Colorado – A new law allows Native American students in the United States to pay tuition in the state of Colorado. Supporters of the new law hope to expand that policy and increase the number of Native American students in higher education.

According to the Post Secondary National Policy Institute, in 2020, only 19% of Native Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 were enrolled in college.

According to the Census Bureau, only 14.5% of the Indigenous population have graduated with a bachelor’s degree or higher, which is why advocates have called for change.

“There are very few study opportunities at universities where there are many Native Americans,” said Andrew Cowell, professor of native studies at the University of Colorado Boulder. “If you’re on a reservation in central South Dakota, there aren’t any colleges nearby to go to, or there haven’t historically been any. Native Americans often prefer to stay at home or lack the financial resources to get out of state or pay for dorms or live a home life.

“The burden isn’t when you’re in school, it continues,” said Tiffany Guspeth, who works for the American Indian College Fund. “I’ve been out of college for many years now, and I’m still paying for college education.

Colorado recently passed a law allowing Native Americans across the country to take courses at universities in Colorado. The benefit applies to 48 Native American tribes.

“The pandemic has really highlighted the inequalities we have with our tribal nations,” said Leslie Smith, a member of the University of Colorado board of regents and a leading advocate for the new law. “I was focused on our condition, I didn’t know how it would play out and I didn’t think it would impact so quickly, but people were paying attention and accepted our bill and our offer.”

According to the Colorado Sun, about 200 Native American students enrolled in state colleges and universities are expected to see their annual tuition fees reduced by about $ 15,000 this year under the new law.

“My experience in education is very similar to the ones we serve,” said Guspeth.

Guspeth is the Senior Director of Student Success Services at the American Indian College Fund. The organization helps Native American students gain better financial access to college.

“That’s what we love to see, financial access,” Guspeth said. “Access only brings people in, but it’s not just what these students need. They need a healthy and welcoming environment.

While this law may encourage more Native American students to attend university, Cowell hopes the law can also benefit institutions with more Native students.

“What kind of education do you get with a 90% white student body? Cowell asked. “The numbers have changed over the years, but it’s not the same education you get when you have multiple Native American students in your class who can talk about their own personal experiences, their own backgrounds and experiences. That’s what enriches this class for everyone in it. “

According to Native Youth to College, Colorado joins 12 other states that offer some type of tuition reduction for Native Americans.

The rules vary, but the goal is the same: to increase the number of Native American students in attendance.


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