In June 2021, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed into law Senate Bill 29, which offers in-state college tuition for members of Native American tribes with historical ties to Colorado, regardless of where they live.

Colorado State University has been offering in-state tuition to qualified students who are citizens of federally or state-recognized tribes or descendants of tribally enrolled citizens for a decade through the Native American Legacy Award. Since its inception in 2011, NALA has benefitted 479 CSU students.

“We really welcomed the passage of the bill,” said Ty Smith, director of CSU’s Native American Cultural Center. “It enhances our ability to further support our students, and it really complements the existing support we offer to reduce the financial burden for students.”

The legislation recognizes 48 tribes with historical ties to Colorado for in-state tuition. CSU has expanded the NALA program to include all 574 federally recognized tribes and all state-recognized tribes.

According to NACC Assistant Director Tiffani Kelly, chair of CSU’s Native American Advisory Council, the passage of SB 29 is significant beyond tuition reduction because it classifies eligible Native students as in-state students, which gives them access to financial aid and other programs available to Colorado residents.

CSU will continue to offer in-state tuition through NALA for Native American students who are not members of one of the 48 tribes listed in the legislation.

Weston Jones (B.A., '21)
Weston Jones (B.A., ’21)