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Trump Administration Proposes Eliminating Tribal Scholarships For Third Year In A Row

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Office of Navajo Nation Scholarship and Financial Assistance
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For the third year in a row the Trump administration has proposed eliminating funding for a Native American college scholarship program. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports, the fund gives assistance to thousands of tribal students across the country.

The Bureau of Indian Education cut almost $40 million for the Higher Education Grant Program in next year’s budget proposal. According to the Department of Diné Education, $13.4 million of that went to 3,565 Navajo students in 2019. Tribal officials say the scholarships are vital and many students wouldn’t be able to attend college without them.

"These funds, the federal dollars that we receive, it’s for need-based students, which is the majority of our students … Even though we give $2,500 dollars per semester it makes a huge difference," says Rose Graham, director of the Office of Navajo Nation Scholarship and Financial Assistance.

The Trump administration has tried to eliminate the grant in each of its last two budget proposals, but it survived congressional appropriations.

Under the administration’s current plan, the BIE’s overall budget would be cut by 20%. The Bureau of Indian Affairs said in an emailed statement about the proposal, "Our statutory requirement is to provide direct education to tribal students, so it was necessary to focus our constrained funding on the support of our own schools."

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Ryan joined KNAU's newsroom in 2013. He covers a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a frequent contributor to NPR.
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