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January 18, 2010 5:49 PM Colorado School to End Tuition Agreement with Native Americans

By Daniel Luzer

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In an effort to save the state money, some members of the Colorado legislature propose limiting money has allows Native Americans to study at Fort Lewis College without paying tuition. According to a Huffington Post article:

Facing a budget crunch, Colorado lawmakers want to take some of that money away.
Rep. Karen Middleton, D-Aurora, said the cost of educating Native American students at Fort Lewis College has soared from $6.5 million to $10.7 million over the past five years because the state pays tuition for all Native Americans, regardless of their tribe or where they live.
About 750 Native American students of the college’s 3,700 students accepted the offer, most of them from other states.

In 1911 the state of Colorado agreed to create a college to educate Native American students, who would be allowed to study tuition free. The college the state created was Fort Lewis College, a public liberal arts college in Durango, Colorado. In exchange for the college, the Ute ceded thousands of acres in southwest Colorado to the federal government. About 20 percent of current Fort Lewis students are Native Americans.

The vice president of finance and administration at Fort Lewis, Steve Schwartz, said tuition would overwhelm his college: “We’ll have to fire teachers and staff,” he said. He also pointed out that the 1911 treaty is one of a small number of contracts with American Indians that the United States government has actually continued to honor.

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer