Education | Opinion

Mark Trahant: Sequester will rip apart tribal college funding

"I had better not bury the lede: The sequester is going to rip apart higher education in Indian Country. It’s going to be ugly, folks, and worse, self-defeating. Haskell Indian Nations University is facing a budget cut that’s almost 30 percent. This is what “deep” spending cuts look like.

In a memorandum to tribal college presidents, the American Indian Higher Education Consortium expects a 6 percent cut in operating funds. On top of that, research funding will drop from all federal sources. About the only good news, the memo says, is that most “federal student loans would mostly be protected and Pell Grants, as we have stated earlier, are actually scheduled to increase for the 2013-14 academic year.” On the other hand, programs such as TRIO, a federal program providing “services for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds” will be cut by at least $66 million. That will impact just about every college and university in the country. Federal work study programs will also be cut by more than $50 million. That program has helped many students work part-time during college.

Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas, for example, is looking at an immediate budget cut of as much as 29 percent. This will be difficult to pull off. Already many of Haskell’s faculty and staff are already furloughed for 12 weeks, making an additional furlough cruel if not impossible.

In the short-term, at least under the sequester, it’s impossible to close Haskell. But that’s only because there is no money under sequester for layoffs or other costs associated with closure. Next year all bets are off."

Get the Story:
Sequester will rip apart higher education in Indian Country; disinvestment in the young (Mark Trahant 1/30)

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