Many tribal colleges are preparing for budget cuts if across-the-board spending cuts, known as the sequester, take place.
Developed to bring a Native perspective to higher education, the nations 36 tribal colleges serve nearly 20,000 Native and non-Native students, while tribal community colleges and GED programs serve an additional 88,000 students.
At the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, a cut in funding as large as 5% could take place.
"We think it’s very unfair that the tribal colleges, which are often poorly funded to begin with would have this automatic cut across the boards," says IAIA President, Dr. Robert Martin. "We think tribal colleges should be exempt from any cuts at all and that’s what we are trying to convey to congress and our supporters and our advocates is that we already are struggling. We shouldn’t have to experience any further cuts, in fact there should be increases for our important missions.”
Dr. Martin says if automatic cuts take effect Friday, it could impact the schools programs and even lead to staff lay-offs depending on how much funding is lost.
It's unclear how other tribal colleges will deal with a sudden cut in funding which could take place as early as Friday, if Congress fails to reach a deal.