Canku Ota - A Newsletter Celebrating Native America
February 26, 2000 - Issue 04

Cherokee Scholarships
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Two legislative acts approved by Cherokee Nation councilors, in Tahlequah, during their regular meeting on Feb. 14 will reserve additional money for college scholarships.

The $1,036,831 added from the act, entitled “Motor Fuel Tax Education Scholarship Appropriation Act,” will be spent for non-PELL Scholarships and placed in a separate interest-bearing account. The added money brings the total budget reserved for scholarships to $2,820,003.

With the money now available, each Cherokee student granted a scholarship will receive $8,000 for four years of college. Approximately 500-550 students receive financial assistance each academic year. More and more students apply each year since the blood quantum requirement for grants is no longer restricted so funding is limited.

Applicants must have be members of the Cherokee Nation or the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians and attending, or planning to attend, a regionally-accredited post-secondary institution. Applicants must also apply for financial aid at their selected institution, demonstrate financial need and accept any aid offered by the institution. Deadline for application submission is April 1 of each year.

The second education act, entitled the “Motor Fuel Tax Education Trust Appropriation Act,” set aside an additional $2 million for scholarships. The Cherokee Nation is authorized by contract to expend Motor Fuel Tax revenue for highway and bridge construction, health, corrections, law enforcement and education.

A trust fund will be established with the $2 million, and money will not be spent from it until July 1, 2017, when the tribe’s Motor Fuel Tax compact with the state expires. Chairman of the council’s executive and finance committee, Harold DeMoss, said in 17 years the $2 million invested plus the 25 percent taken from each quarterly Motor Fuel Tax check from the state should provide the Cherokee Nation with approximately $60 million in reserve for scholarships.

DeMoss said he hopes future councils will only use the interest from the money after it matures and not spend this money before it does. He said after 17 years the tribe should reap $3 million a year in interest for scholarships.

“We are always talking about doing this but never do it,” DeMoss said. “I’m very proud to be a part of a council that is doing this.”

United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians

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