Colorado Tuition Plan Dead

FtLewis4.jpg

There’s an update to the proposed Colorado law to limit the money that allows Native Americans to study at Fort Lewis College without paying tuition: the bill is dead.

According to an article at In Denver Times, Colorado State Representative Karen Middleton, who proposed the bill, is giving up:

Middleton announced at a Capitol news conference on Friday that, “I will kill this bill.” The measure, House Bill 10-1067, is on the House Education Committee calendar for Monday afternoon.

“This was never meant to be a direct impact on Native Americans,” said Middleton, who blamed part of the controversy on “misleading” media coverage. “I want to set the record straight.”

Middleton is right. Articles about the Colorado bill often said that Middleton’s proposal would end the tuition agreement with Native Americans, implying that if her bill passed native students would be forced to pay tuition to attend Fort Lewis College. Not exactly.

It’s actually a reasonably simple budgeting issue. Currently, tuition at Fort Lewis is $16,060 a year. By virtue of a 1911 treaty between the Ute Indians and the U.S. Department of the Interior, Colorado currently pays $16,060 to Fort Lewis for every Native American student who attends the school.

Middleton’s bill would have allowed the state to compensate Fort Lewis at the actual cost of instruction, about $13,271 a year.

While this change could have been very damaging to the college’s finances, Native American students would still have been able to attend Fort Lewis College without paying tuition.

Daniel Luzer

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