Funding for minority serving institutions like tribal colleges was approved in the senate earlier this week and we spoke to a tribal college president about what that means for her institution.
The US Senate unanimously voted to renew the FUTURE Act which helps provide $255 dollars annually for tribal colleges, HBCs and other minority serving institutions. Salish Kootenai College in Pablo takes that money and uses it to expand their programs and help recruit and retain students.
“What we use it for is student retention efforts, student support. We use it to fund start up programs. So, if we are thinking about a new major there is a lot of cost to implementing it in the beginning," SKC President Sandra Boham explained. "This helps us to do that.”
The funding helps SKC develop new curriculum like advanced manufacturing and drone pilot programs that help keep the school at the forefront of education. Boham notes that SKC’s student body is also getting younger and the funding helps develop a campus that younger students would want to attend and stay at.
"We still get a lot of non-traditional students, but we are seeing more traditional aged students. And what they want in student life is a lot different than what it was 10 years ago, and so we are kind of out here and isolated a little bit," Boham said. "So, what they want is they want us to help create a community, so we need to have activities. We need to have ways they can socialize. We need to have ways to get them to movie theaters and shopping.”
SKC hired a student engagement coordinator to help develop a strategy to keep its younger student body -- including building a student health center on campus.
“One of the other things that we did was -- we have a student health center on campus. And that came from students letting us know that this is something they needed through our student engagement person. And so we were able to get that going.,” said Boham.
The FUTURE Act now awaits approval by President Donald Trump.