Qualifying for Federal Funding of Tribally Controlled Community Colleges

CED-81-115: Published: Jun 18, 1981. Publicly Released: Jun 18, 1981.

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GAO was requested to: (1) verify the number of full-time equivalent Indian students reported as attending 12 tribally controlled community colleges during the 1980-81 academic year; and (2) obtain college officials' opinions on the benefits of the Tribally Controlled Community College Assistance Act and concerns about the Bureau of Indian Affairs' (BIA) implementation of the Act.

GAO found discrepancies in the full-time equivalent Indian student counts reported by most of the colleges receiving funds under the Act. The verification of the student counts showed that the colleges were not requiring evidence that all students were eligible Indians, were not maintaining up-to-date enrollment data, and were making counting errors. College officials stated that they wanted the Act reauthorized because many Indians would not receive a college education if funds were not available. Concerns raised by one or more college officials included: (1) contrary to its own regulation BIA approved grants in February 1981 for two additional colleges which resulted in reductions to the amount of funds the 11 colleges expected to receive; (2) not being able to count Indian students who are not members of a federally recognized tribe; (3) BIA delays in certifying that students are Indians and should be counted in determining the number of full-time equivalent Indian students; (4) the formula for computing full-time equivalent Indian students does not allow inclusion of all courses; (5) the 6-week cutoff date after the start of a school term in computing full-time equivalent Indian students is too long; (6) not being able to receive funds for other college activities; and (7) the Navajo Community College being funded on the basis of need rather than a formula. GAO believes that BIA is appropriately addressing the concerns raised by the college officials.

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