Senate Bill No. 84

Introduced By jergeson, holland, peck, mohl, waterman, toews, tuss

By Request of The Joint Committee on Postsecondary Education Policy and Budget

A Bill for an Act entitled: An Act Requiring the Board of Regents, upon appropriation of funds, to provide financial assistance to resident nonbeneficiary students attending tribally controlled community colleges in Montana; providing requirements for receipt of money; providing for a reversion of unspent funds to the general fund; and providing an immediate effective date.

WHEREAS, seven tribally controlled community colleges exist in the State of Montana; and

WHEREAS, the tribal community colleges provide a quality, low-cost, and accessible college program to Indian and non-Indian students each year; and

WHEREAS, resident nonbeneficiary students do not qualify for financial support through the Bureau of Indian Affairs or under the Tribally Controlled Community College Assistance Act of 1978; and

WHEREAS, as a result of House Bill No. 544, enacted by the 1995 Legislature, the Board of Regents entered into contracts with tribal community colleges to provide financial assistance to approximately 589 resident nonbeneficiary students in the 1997 biennium; and

WHEREAS, without continuing state support, tribal community colleges will not be able to serve resident nonbeneficiary students without increasing student fees, which may result in students dropping out of college.


Section 1.  Financial assistance for resident nonbeneficiary students.  (1) Subject to a line item appropriation for purposes of this section, the regents shall provide financial assistance to tribally controlled community colleges for enrolled resident nonbeneficiary students.

(2)  Each tribal community college shall apply for this assistance to the regents. Except as provided in subsection (6), the money must be distributed on a prorated basis according to the resident nonbeneficiary student enrollment in each tribal community college during the previous year. To qualify, a resident nonbeneficiary student shall meet the residency requirements as prescribed for the system by the regents. The distribution for any student is limited to a maximum of $1,500 each year for each full-time equivalent student.

(3)  An expenditure is contingent upon the tribal community college:

(a)  being accredited or being a candidate for accreditation by the northwest association of schools and colleges;

(b)  entering into a contract or a state-tribal cooperative agreement, pursuant to Title 18, chapter 11, with the regents to provide the regents with information relating to eligibility of resident nonbeneficiary students and documentation on the curriculum to ensure that the content and quality of courses offered by the tribal community college are consistent with the standards adopted by the system; and

(c)  filing with the regents evidence that the college's enrollment of Indian students is at least 51%, as required by the Tribally Controlled Community College Assistance Act of 1978, 25 U.S.C. 1804.

(4) If funding is available pursuant to subsection (1), the legislature intends that the money be an amount in addition to the system budget approved in the general appropriations act.

(5) All funds appropriated under subsection (1) that are unspent revert to the state general fund.

(6)  Prior to receiving money pursuant to subsection (1), each tribal community college shall:

(a)  grant to resident nonbeneficiary students who meet the residency requirements, as prescribed for the system by the regents, fee waivers in the same percentage as the number of Indian students who are receiving fee waivers to attend a unit of the system bears to the total enrollment in the system; and

(b)  subtract the costs of resident nonbeneficiary fee waivers granted under subsection (6)(a) from the total amount of prorated money to be distributed.

(7) The calculation in subsection (6) is not intended to allow the university system to retain the calculated amount of funds. Waivers must be given to eligible students.

Section 2.  Notification to tribal governments. The secretary of state shall send a copy of [this act] to each tribal government located on the seven Montana reservations and to the presidents of the seven Montana tribally controlled community colleges.

Section 3.  Codification instruction. [Section 1] is intended to be codified as an integral part of Title 20, chapter 25, part 4, and the provisions of Title 20, chapter 25, part 4, apply to [section 1].

Section 4.  Effective date. [This act] is effective on passage and approval.