Colorado has approved a bill that allows Native American students from tribes with historical ties to the state to enroll in public colleges and universities.
Governor Jared Polis signed Senate Bill 29 to help out-of-state students from federally recognized tribes pursue a more affordable college education in Colorado. The Colorado Sun disclosed that around 200 Native American students already enrolled at state colleges will be the initial beneficiaries of the new law and would have $15,000 slashed from their annual tuition.
The bill also gives eligible out-of-state Native American students access to the Colorado Opportunity Fund ⏤ a stipend that shoulders a portion of tuition costs ($94 per credit hour) ⏤ in addition to other financial aid. The policy will be implemented this semester.
Opening More Doors
The reason for creating the bill was to support the 48 American Indian tribes originally from Colorado who were forced out of the state. Through SB29, the state government hopes to partially address the injustice visited upon these tribes by providing their descendants with resident tuition.
Jenna Whiteplum, a senior from Lander Valley High School in Wyoming, is more than grateful for the benefits given to her by the new law.
“I was thinking about going to the University of Wyoming for two years to save money and then transferring. This really helped me be able to go here from the first year. CU was my first choice,” she told The Colorado Sun.
However, Fort Lewis College is not among participating colleges because it already offers free tuition to Native American students.
“We’ve been engaged in this work – none of this postdates the bill. Fort Lewis was supportive of the bill from the beginning, but success has everything to do with what happens on the campus,” said Fort Lewis College President Tom Stritikus.