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BIA will fund United Tribes Technical College
22 March 2007

BISMARCK (UTN) - There's some good news about the funding for United Tribes Technical College. The college learned that it will receive its federal funding from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, at least through September.

      "The BIA confirmed that it will continue to fund us through Fiscal Year 2007," said David M. Gipp, college president. "We were concerned that we might be left out for the remainder of the year. So, we're very pleased."

      For the past five years, the federal administration has tried to eliminate the college's BIA funding. Although Congress had previously restored it, this year the appropriation was caught up in efforts to eliminate, so called, congressional earmarks.

      The college had already received $1.9 million dollars in FY 2007 funding authorized under two "continuing resolutions" passed by Congress late last year to run the government. In question was whether the Interior Department would continue to fund UTTC for the remainder of the fiscal year through September.

      Gipp said he learned the "good news" March 20 during a BIA Budget Advisory meeting in Washington.

      "We certainly are not an earmark of the type that lawmakers are trying to control," he said. "We have a long history of being funded by the BIA under an Indian Self-Determination contract going back to 1978."

      United Tribes and one other college, Navajo Technical College (formerly Crownpoint Institute of Technology) will be included in the budget under a merit based program that emphasizes a series of indicators including their role in support of Indian education.

      "We're not concerned about our ability to demonstrate the quality of our work," said Gipp. "We have good data and statistics to show our accreditation status, graduation and placement rates, and our value to Indian Country."

      As a result of the action, UTTC expects to receive an additional $1.6 million, for a total appropriation at or slightly below $3.5 million for the year, the same as the college's 2006 appropriation.

      Receiving the remainder of the appropriation will make it possible to continue college services without interruption, said Gipp. Basic services will stay in place through the duration of the fiscal year.

      Over 1,000 American Indian students and their families attend UTTC each year. The staff and faculty population is 400. Over 70 American Indian tribes are represented in the student population. The school also serves over 300 youngsters.

      "We're very grateful for the support and assistance we've received from people at home and around the country," said Gipp.

      Members of the North Dakota Congressional Delegation were notified March 21 by Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne that he agreed to provide the funding.

      Senators Byron Dorgan and Kent Conrad and Congressman Earl Pomeroy led the congressional effort to ensure the school had the funding it needs to continue operations through FY 2007.

      "United Tribes Technical College has distinguished itself as one of the top tribal colleges in the nation," the delegation said in a joint statement. "This school is an important resource for our American Indian communities and we're pleased this funding will come through so it can continue its important educational mission."

      North Dakota Governor John Hoeven lent his support by writing to Kempthorne in early March. He said, "United Tribes continues to be a good investment in human resources, not just for North Dakota, but for the entire United States."

      Hoeven urged the secretary to ensure that all remaining funding for FY 2007 is provided and to support the college's request for BIA funding for FY 2008.

      Funding for UTTC was not included in the 2008 Federal Budget. Senator Dorgan is taking steps to assure that funding will be more stable in the future, said Gipp. Under study are ways to provide an annual appropriation with specific authorization in the BIA budget.


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