Great Falls Tribune: Tribal colleges in Montana receive more than $34 million in American Rescue Plan funds

by Nora Mabie

Seven tribal colleges in Montana have received more than $34 million in American Rescue Plan Funds, according to a news release.

Tribal colleges that received funding include:

  • Salish Kootenai College, located in Pablo: $8,932,836
  • Little Big Horn College, located in Crow Agency: $5,266,825
  • Blackfeet Community College, located in Browning: $5,196,454
  • Stone Child College, located in Box Elder: $4,312,617
  • Fort Peck Community College, located in Poplar: $4,080,367
  • Chief Dull Knife College, located in Lame Deer: $3,220,279
  • Aaniiih Nakoda College, located in Harlem: $3,064,527

Signed by President Joe Biden last March, the American Rescue Plan is a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill. Sen. Jon Tester was the sole member of the Montana congressional delegation to vote in favor of the bill.

Tribal colleges provide Native and non-Native students an affordable path to higher education; they bring employment opportunities to rural communities and contribute millions of dollars to the state’s economy each year, according to a Montana Budget and Policy Center report, which said the schools were “an outstanding return on investment.”

Montana has seven of the nation’s 37 tribal colleges – more than any other state – and in 2018, the tribal colleges in Montana served 2,400 students. According to the same report, tribal colleges in 2009 contributed $76.2 million to the state’s economy.

Though tribal colleges get some revenue from tuition, their primary source of funding comes from a federal law, which authorizes $8,000 to colleges for each American Indian beneficiary student. But the actual allocation is subject to appropriation, and in 2016, tribal colleges received about $6,700 per beneficiary student. Montana provides state funding to tribal colleges to support resident, full-time nonbeneficiary students, but that funding is capped at $3,280 per nonbeneficiary student.