Tester’s FUTURE Act to Renew Tribal College Funding Approved by Congress, Headed to President’s Desk

Bill to fund Montana Tribal Colleges and Universities expected to become law

(U.S. Senate) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester’s bill to bolster higher education in Indian Country is heading to the President’s desk, after earning final Congressional approval this week.

The Fostering Undergraduate Talent by Unlocking Resources for Education (FUTURE) Act passed the Senate unanimously and will provide permanent mandatory federal funding of $255 million annually for Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), as well as Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and other Minority-Serving Institutions.

“Tribal Colleges and Universities are critical to training and preparing the next generation of Native American leaders for their careers,” Tester said. “Today these institutions will finally get much-needed certainty to continue providing the tools and resources to help students across Indian Country succeed.”

This critical funding expired on September 30th as a result of Senate inaction, despite receiving unanimous approval in the House of Representatives earlier in the month.

Tester led the charge in the Senate for TCU funding after it expired and called on Senate leadership to pass the FUTURE Act in a letter cosigned by 36 of his Senate colleagues. As a result, the amended version that passed the Senate this week provides permanent funding to strengthen TCUs and other Minority-Serving Institutions’ academic, financial, and administrative capabilities. The seven TCUs across Montana rely heavily on this funding to provide student support services, strengthen campus infrastructure, and provide for the unique needs of the communities, families, and students they serve.

A longtime proponent of education initiatives in Indian Country, Tester recently reintroduced his Native Educator Support and Training (NEST) Act to recruit more Native American teachers and retain qualified educators in Indian Country, and he was instrumental in negotiating a budget deal that brought millions to Native American education programs earlier this year. Tester also secured $663,106 this year in U.S. Department of Agriculture Tribal College Initiative Grants for five TCUs in Montana for campus improvement projects.

Montana’s seven TCUs are most of any state. These institutions serve thousands of Native students and hundreds of non-Native students each year, and they are critical in helping Tribes address workforce needs and provide postsecondary educational opportunities for Tribal members. Across the country, there are 37 TCUs operating 75 campuses in 16 states.