DENVER – Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia paid tribute to Fort Lewis College’s 100th anniversary Wednesday evening and said the state has no immediate plans to tinker with the college’s Native American Tuition Waiver.
Garcia commended FLC for serving both Native American students and everyone in the remote southwest corner of the state.
“Fort Lewis College has a history that is unlike any other institution of higher education in the state,” Garcia said. “And it serves such a critically important population.”
Native American students attend Fort Lewis tuition-free, and the state picks up the cost.
Garcia leads the Department of Higher Education, which in 2010 – under previous leadership – surprised Fort Lewis supporters by attempting to reduce the state’s reimbursement to the college for expensive out-of-state students.
The effort failed after an outcry from Fort Lewis students and administrators.
Gov. John Hickenlooper is scheduled to submit the first budget of his administration to the Legislature on Tuesday. Garcia said the budget would not call for changes to the tuition waiver, but he didn’t rule out future changes.
“It is something we are going to look at. We’ll look at it every year because it involves a significant amount of money that comes out of a limited pot,” Garcia said in an interview.
But he promised the Fort Lewis community would not be surprised again. He plans to meet with FLC President Dene Thomas today.
“We don’t have a plan yet, but we want to formulate one working together with the college, rather than bring a plan without their participation,” Garcia said.
In Congress, Rep. Scott Tipton and Sen. Michael Bennet are sponsoring bills to get the federal government to pick up tuition costs for out-of-state Native American students.