TITLE: Protecting Native Students from Harmful Cuts to Federal Student Aid
WHEREAS, we, the members of the National Congress of American Indians of the United States, invoking the divine blessing of the Creator upon our efforts and purposes, in order to preserve for ourselves and our descendants the inherent sovereign rights of our Indian nations, rights secured under Indian treaties and agreements with the United States, and all other rights and benefits to which we are entitled under the laws and Constitution of the United States and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, to enlighten the public toward a better understanding of the Indian people, to preserve Indian cultural values, and otherwise promote the health, safety and welfare of the Indian people, do hereby establish and submit the following resolution; and
WHEREAS, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) was established in 1944 and is the oldest and largest national organization of American Indian and Alaska Native tribal governments; and
WHEREAS, the number of Native students enrolled in and graduating from associate, bachelor, and master degree programs across the country has doubled in the past 30 years; and
WHEREAS, over 44 percent American Indian and Alaska Native children under the age of 18 come from low-income families that are eligible for public assistance programs, qualifying them for federal student grants and loans; and
WHEREAS, between 2004 and 2012, student aid provided through Pell Grants increased by $2,900 while the average cost of attendance for these students increased by $7,400; and
WHEREAS, the average low-income student who graduated in 2004 had yet to repay 91 percent of their student loan debt in 2015, compared to the 59 percent remaining for more affluent students; and
WHEREAS, proposals that restrict access to federal aid and subsidized loan programs or limit repayment schedule options result in fewer Native students attending college and more Native students with student debt.
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) supports opportunities for all Native students to pursue postsecondary education, including through federal loans, grants, and scholarships; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, NCAI urges Congress and the Administration to protect Native students from student loan policies that are harmful to their economic present and future; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, NCAI will continue to advocate for critical protections against harmful changes to the Higher Education Act that would further exacerbate Native student loan debt; and
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that this resolution shall be the policy of NCAI until it is withdrawn or modified by subsequent resolution.
The foregoing resolution was adopted by the General Assembly at the 2018 Annual Session of the National Congress of American Indians, held at the Hyatt Regency in Denver, Colorado October 21-26, 2018, with a quorum present.
Jefferson Keel, President
Juana Majel Dixon, Recording Secretary