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Contemporary Status

Public Act 174 remains in effect. In 1976 an amendment to the law significantly expanded the number of individuals eligible to receive the waiver by lowering the required blood quantum from one-half to one-quarter. Through this change any individual with one, full-blooded Indian grandparent became eligible to receive a tuition waiver.

In 1996 funding for the program was modified so that it no longer appeared as a separate line item for the state's colleges and universities but rather was incorporated into the schools "base appropriation." This change caused considerable concern among the law's supporters. Some supporters were concerned that the waiver might be entirely eliminated based on the legislature's perception that newfound Indian income, largely based on gaming, made the program unnecessary. Responding to this point, the Saginaw-Chippewa tribe noted in their written statement to the legislature that despite a public perception of new wealth among Native Americans the 1990 census revealed that forty-nine percent of Michigan's Indian population live at or below the poverty level.

Other supporters of the law worried that without a clearly defined fund to pay for Native American tuition expenses, colleges and universities might be less willing to honor the state's commitment created through the law. These supporters drew their concerns from seeming inconsistencies in how the law was administered at the various state colleges and universities.