Tribal Colleges in Montana receive more than $34 million in American Rescue Plan funds

Mar 24, 2022

Great Falls Tribune

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:

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. 

Montana Budget & Policy Center

Shaping policy for a stronger Montana.

MBPC is a nonprofit organization focused on providing credible and timely research and analysis on budget, tax, and economic issues that impact low- and moderate-income Montana families.