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Students must take extra steps to receive full amount of scholarships

Parents and students overflowed the Osage Nation congressional chambers Wednesday at a highly anticipated education meeting. Photo by Shannon Shaw/Osage News

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Parents and students overflowed the Osage Nation congressional chambers Wednesday at a highly anticipated education meeting to hear the status of the Osage Nation Higher Education scholarships.

Hepsi Barnett, Executive Branch Chief of Staff, told attendees that two separate applications for room and board, and one for supplies, will be available next week for those students waiting on the full amount of their scholarships. If the applications are not filled out and sent back it is possible that students will not receive the remainder of their money, she said.

“The criteria for room and board is being revised and that is at the advice from the attorney we have been consulting,” Barnett said. “We are making every effort to rectify the situation and get the disbursements made.”

The controversy erupted last week when students began contacting Congress with the news that they weren’t receiving the full $3,500 scholarship from the Nation as promised. Letters of intent had already been sent to their schools and without notification from the education department, only their tuition and books were paid for, leaving nothing for room and board or supplies. In the past, students attending lower-cost schools received what was left over after their tuition and books were paid for, leaving some with more than $2,000 in left over monies. This has affected approximately 200 students.

Congresswoman Shannon Edwards, an education committee member, said the committee repeatedly asked the education department during the Spring Hun-Kah session to come up with criteria for room and board, and supplies, for the students and that the controversy never would have happened if that would have been achieved.

“Somehow, somewhere, there has been a misrepresentation that the [scholarship] money was going to go to the students,” Edwards said. “There are three schools where the tuition and fees is zero for Native American students.”

“Now I’m hearing that if a student has no tuition, and room and board is $215, then we’re giving them $3,500 . . . for what? I’m confused,” Edwards said.

Congressman William “Kugee” Supernaw said in return, “If you’re confused then imagine how our students are feeling.” Edwards agreed and Supernaw continued by saying, “If students were told they were getting $3,500, and they were relying on that money, then we have an obligation to pay it.”

The other concern was that since room and board is a taxable income, students might get caught with some income taxes, but parents at the meeting refuted this, waving Internal Revenue Service publications and notes they had made for the meeting.

“Is there discrimination on where you attend school?” said Wendy Ponca whose son attends Haskell Indian Nations University where tuition costs $215. “Because one of my son’s has chosen to go to Haskell, he can’t get the full amount?”

“Who cares if we have to pay taxes on a mere $3,500. So what, pay it!” Ponca said.

Edwards made a motion for a resolution that all students waiting for the remainder of the money be paid in full immediately, without having to fill out the applications and send them in. However, a resolution is a recommendation and holds no legal binding. The education department, or the Executive Branch, does not have to act on the resolution.

The resolution will be introduced Friday morning during the congressional session, according to Congressman Doug Revard, education committee chair.

Education Director, Robert Hyatt, said in the meeting that a letter was sent late Friday to those students waiting on the remainder of the money. The letter explains the situation to the students and what steps they need to take. He said the department also sent letters to their schools explaining the money has been delayed and asks the schools to extend their letters of intent to Oct. 10, and to wave any late fees or penalties.

"I’ve received no letter that was sent on [Sept. 4] and [my daughter’s] school has received no letter,” said Penny Bradford, whose daughter attends a small college. “She has until next week for her account to be paid in full or else I have to go down there and pack her up.”

Three other parents at the meeting said that their children have not received a letter from the Nation and neither has their school. Barnett said that since the letters were sent out late Friday, and due to the holiday, the students and schools should be receiving those letters today or tomorrow.

Barnett also told the committee that legal implications were found concerning tax liability for the tribe and that the Executive Branch would be preparing a report with the help of an attorney to present to the Congress in an executive session at a future date.

“We’re trying to look out for the student’s best interest,” Barnett said. “We expect no delays in the disbursement of money.”

Location

Osage Nation Education Department
102 Buffalo Ave.
Hominy, OK
United States

Comments

Just like the President of the United States our Executive Branch has responsibilities they are obligated to. I think there is no shame in this and I am proud that in a difficult time they are still able to continue our international relationships, especially when the Chief is down with the flu.

those in the executive branch going to france should be a shame of themselves, especially when all of this education mess is not done. What is more important a french citizen or an Osage?

When we as a tribe let our young people down what can we expect from them in the future? I am not real familiar with this situation, but I would like to add some comments and ask some questions. First why isn't the money paid directly to the colleges. If there is money that is not used give each student a voucher for that amount of unused money and it can be used for supplies at the college book store, etc. I feel certain there would not be any tax liability to the students parents or to the tribe. Secondly, I assume you are requiring a proof of enrollment by each student and proof of a 2 point grade average at the end of each semester. I put two children through college and this is the way and only way monies should be distributed. I really hope I am wrong on all of the above, but I have a feeling that I am not. PLEASE keep our young people at the top of your list to help, but do it responsibly.

I completely understand the timing is inappropriate and I do believe students should receive their money and the issued should be resolved before next semester. However, I do not think that the tribe is discriminating against tribal colleges. It's more about the money that is required for these schools and the money they are receiving. I am not saying that the people who attend these colleges aren't deserving and I do not believe the tribe is saying that either. I feel lucky to receive any money or benefits from the Osage Tribe. There are other tribes that have to fight tooth and nail to get any assistance and when they do it hardly pays for tuition let alone room and board! As far as the comment about Cheif Gray goes I think it was tactless, inappropiate, uncalled for and uninformed. I work for the Osage Nation Head Start. You need to look at the progress that has been made in our program since he has been in office and the work that he has done for the tribe. I think before people make hateful comments they should do more research. Is it assumed the tribe is paying for the Cheif's trips? Or is it an actual fact? “The invalid assumption that correlation implies cause is probably among the two or three most serious and common errors of human reasoning” I can understand how frustrated everyone is about the timing but lets be reasonable.

Well, I hope Shannon Edwards and a few employees at the Education department don't have anything planned for the next three months because I'm sure that if we're not going to get the money that was suppose to given to us than there will be a lot Haskell students needing rides home to see their families. As for me, I have a family to take care. a full time job to attend and I have to do my homework because I'm a full time student. None of these are a problem for me but I would not mind getting some money that was left over from my schooling to help my family and I live a little better. I read where the Chief was taking 200 people to France and he has taken out money from the Head Start and the Elderly programs. What in God's name for? I have a daughter that attends Head Start. I do not have any family that lives in the elderly homes but why would anyone want to take away from these two programs? If you do take away from these programs you are doing nothing but hurting the Osage babies that attend Head Start. Your taking away from our elders also. Do we not, as Osage people, pride ourselves with giving both of these groups the respect that they much deserve? What in hell is going on up at the hill!!?! Education should be one of the top priorities within the Osage Tribe. If these people were voted into office and hired on in their offices than that means we all trust these people to make the best decisions for us and there not doing this. I say we would have better luck with replacing a few members and employees with Magic 8 balls. At least we would get a straight answers from the 8 balls. Is there some device that you can purchase that helps people remove their heads from their rectums? If anyone knows of such a device please contact me.

I have to defend Haskell Indian Nations University. Some students learn better in a smaller setting with other Native students around them. Each person's cognitive abilty is unique. I personnally know over 30 people who started at Haskell and now have a Masters or higher. Ms. Edwards forgets the cost of travel there and the upkeep of the Indian car to get there. Yes the room and board is 215, but there are not three meals on weekends. Also if your are studying or in a late lab (required), you dont get fed at the cafeteria. Haskell students once they are past their Sophomore year must buy their own books. Conservatively this costs $500 and up easily. Did Ms. Edwards take that into account. That is if a student needs only two books. There are also toiletries, laundry and students must buy their own toilet paper and cleaning supplies. There is also the travel to and from the school at Thanksgiving and Xmas. That $3500 does not go far and no one is getting rich or throwing a big party with the funds. That is the same patronizing attitude that whites usually reserve for the so called "drunkin Indian". Whoever said this owes the Osage students an apology.

Would Ms. Edwards feel better if the Osage student going to Haskell insted transferred to KU? Well let me tell you that this year alone (2009) there have been 12 student deaths from alcohol poisoning at KU. A bigger university that costs more is not necessarily better for the Native student.

The Osage students at Haskell that I know point with pride that the Osage Nation helped build the Haskell stadium arch. Well now the very Osages that did not attend Haskell are trying to put it down and put down the students that attend our alma mater and they should be the one's who are ashamed.

I guess I've been in the dark for the pass two years that Ive been at college. I never got 3,500 for school, I've gotten about 1,000 less, and I just assumed that was all they were giving. I now attend University of South Alabama, and I had to pay tuition, books, and the outrageous fees that immidiate friday after school started. Since state budget cuts in florida cut out a lot of athletics I had to transfer, and basically since then finding money for college has been difficult. Osage is all I have to keep my education going.
All I know is that 3500 would be a tremendous help, especially when I work 30 hrs a week on top of a full-time school schedule. I hope everything is going to work out, becuase in this economy all you seem to have is your education.

It looks to me like the Education Department under the direction of Jim, Hepsi and Robert have changed the rules on the students and are now asking for an accounting of their expenses where none was originally required. There are now one accounting for room and board expenses and another accounting for supplies, etc.

What happened to the idea that we should reward our Osage Students who make the sacrifices required to stay in school. Maybe give them a little more than just reimbursment of expenses, where did the incentative for good grade go in this new requirement?

How many steps does the chief have to take to get travel money to go to France, Washington state, or Hawaii?

I currently have two children attending Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, KS, and I'd like to thank the tribe and Education Committee for the scholarship help they have received. They are both athletes representing Haskell, and spend many hours in preparation for athletic events. The money from the scholarship has allowed them to be successful athletes in college. Without the tribe's contributions, they would have to get jobs to be able to continue their educations, which would not allow them to continue their athletic careers.
On their financial statements from Haskell, the actual cost of a year at Haskell is extimated at $8,000-10,000. Although the cost of tuition is only $430, there are many other related expenses estimated and listed, such as books, travel, activities, and other fees and expenses. For this reason, $3,500 is not an extravigant amount to provide for each student's education each semester.
My kids both have summer jobs, and without the full $3,500, I'm sure that both would have to get jobs during school to make it through, thus they would probably not be able to participate in school athletics. It would probably also cut into their study time, and be detrimental to their all-around education.
As of yesterday, 9/11, we received a letter that explains that we will be receiving further information in the future on how to apply for the remainer of the money. It is way too late in the semester to be wondering if you're going to be getting the money you were promised or not, as at least my two students, have settled into this semester at college with participation in athletics, and no time to get a job to pay for expenses. I would encourage the Congress and the Education Committee to disburse the money as promised, and give themselves, the tribe, and students time to iron out all the details of any different plan they will put in place in the future. At this point, too many people are already counting on what was allotted to them to be denied. Please disburse the money as the guidelines stated, and make better plans for the future.
Thank you

I went to Haskell Indian Nations University and the money that I received from the tribe went to necessites such as housing, daycare (since I had a child in college) and daily living expenses such as gas and food. How dare the tribe try to dictate where the money gets spent, yes, books and tuition are very important and we're grateful, BUT WHY PUNISH STUDENTS WHO CHOOSE TRIBAL OR JUNIOR COLLEGES?? BECASUE THAT IS WHAT YOU ARE DOING. All of the students are Osage and we all deserve the fullest amount possible. I personally chose to go to Haskell Indian Nations University because of the low cost. The place is a great school with great instructors and I graduated with a bachelor's degree debt free, not many students can say this. Going to a tribal college or going to Juco route is very smart for many students, they can graduate debt free or get their basics out of the way while avoiding the high costs of many state schools.

I now go to Arizona State Law School (a top 40 law school in the nation by the way, looks like that Haskell degree is alright huh?) and while the $3500 is just a drop in the bucket for my expenses, seeing people like my brother and former classmates of mine receive only a fraction of this PROMISED and APPROPRIATED AMOUNT, really upsets me. Executive and who else is wondering about the tax issue ask yourself this, WHO ARE YOU LOOKING OUT FOR, BECAUSE BY DELAYING AND CUTTING THE MONEY ALL UNDER THE GUISE OF A TAX ISSSUE IS REALLY PATHETIC AND PLAIN STUPID"

I have a son just beginning his college endeavor this fall. He is an honor student and is attending college in Georgia where we live. Living so far away geographically, we were, to say the least, stunned to learn of this trouble with the scholarships. We applied for and were promised scholorship monies. It is of poor character of those in charge to pull a stunt as low as retracting promised monies from our committed, disciplined, deserving and hard-working students. We have been made to make tough decisions like groceries, gas, utilities or to pay tuition and books and the mounting miscellaneous expenses that come with college. We are having to make budget decisions that affect our whole family. We have called and checked on the status of the disbursement and told it would be coming next week and next week came and went. We called again and again were told "the check is in the mail". I am, by accident, finding out things about our Osage Nation that are shocking. I cannot wait until the election of 2010 whereby there is hope of replacing an ineffective group of "Leaders" for our proud nation with leaders who care about the people they represent. I honestly and naively thought that our Executive Branch and the whole Congress were busy about caring and doing for our people. Not so. I thank the ones who are making a stand and speaking on behalf of the good of the people. Change never happens easily but is worth the fight. Keep up the good fight. Thank you to those who are carrying the torch for change and justice and demanding responsibility and accountability.

I am a student about to finish my education. Give the students what they were promised. Maybe you should talk to Jim Gray about his trips he is taking. He just got back from Hawaii. He is getting ready to go to France & take 200 people with him? Where is THAT money coming from? And then he went & purchased a mound of dirt for over $200,000 & didn't discuss it with the tribe as far as I have learned. He took money from the Head Start program & the elderly to purchase it. There is too much politics going on here. The Osage Tribe should have plenty of money to go around. Look at the casinos they have. Where's that money going?? It should go to funds like scholarships & to help the Osage people in need. I vote we get a new Chief in the new election coming up. I appreciate the money I have received from the Osage Tribe & it has helped me tremendously to continue my education. This situation needs to be resolved soon about the scholarship money, if it hasn't been already. There's nothing more frustrating than not being able to pay for the things you need while going to school.

I know for a fact that a few congress members have stated that they don't think Haskell students deserve the full amount. Little do they know that Haskell administrative officials are planning to write letters addressing our Congress members along with our Executive branch. Good job guys, discriminating against Tribal colleges. I'm sure this is just the beginning. Haskell's homecoming is this weekend and the Board of Regents have gotten wind of what is going on. They too are very upset.

The above email quote came from an email by Shannon Edwards.

Actually Shannon Edwards has already given us the answer to her question..... "Now I’m hearing that if a student has no tuition, and room and board is $215, then we’re giving them $3,500 . . . for what? I’m confused,” Edwards said."

This is a quote from an email dated September 2 2009.

..." Student #1 expects to get a check payable to her in excess of $3000.00. She plans to throw a big party and go on spring break with Osage Nation funds, but her parents suggest she use it to spend on clothes, car expense, gas, spending money, and buying a computer. Admittedly, none of this is room and board."....

This shows a total lack of respect on her part for our Osage students.

Those in office, will not have my vote at the next election.

I am student at the University of Arkansas and i completely agree with all previos post. Im a little confused about this whole debate, living in Arkansas has put me somewhat at a disadvantage, i cant get anyone to answer the phone or return any of my calls. I am a single mother of four children and in my last semester of college and this scholarship money has been a blood line for my financial situation. I have done my best to avoid loans, but this situation has forced me to take out a loan just to pay the remaining tuition and living expenses. This sholarship is an investment in the future of the Osage tribe, my education has and will forever change my life and the lives of my children....it seems we the students have fallen off the radar and it all boils down to politics...Keep your word! & i never recieved a letter i had to do the research myself to find out what is going on.

My name is Andrea and I am a Senior at the University of Oklahoma. I understand that there has been some issues regarding the disbursement of financial aid this semester. I for one am very thankful for the assistance I have received from Osage Nation. I wouldn't have been able to make it as far as I have with out it. I can see from the perspective of others that it is difficult (and sometimes impossible) to wait for money we when need it, especially when it has been promised for a specific time. I too am frustrated with my current financial situation and hope that my school will be understanding in the matter. However, I wanted to take this opportunity to thank everyone for the finances that I have received thus far and also to say thank you for the increase in the amount.

THE "BEST INTEREST" FOR THE STUDENTS HUH...WHEN THERE IS NEARLY HALF OF US THAT IS WOUNDERING IF WE SHOULD EVEN START DOING SCHOOL WORK BECAUSE WE'RE NOT SURE IF WE ARE GOING TO EVEN BE IN SCHOOL COME NEXT WEEK OR THE WEEK AFTER..BECASUE MOST OF OUR DEADLINES ARE COMING CLOSE AND HERE WE STILL NOT YET RECIEVED THE 3500.00 THAT WE WAS PROMISED..TO BETTER OUR EDUCATIONS AS THE FUTURE TO THIS TRIBE...BUT IT SEEMS AS IF THE EXCUTIVE BRANCH IS TRYING TO HELP US FAIL JUST AS THEY FAILED US..I JUST DONT UNDER STAND WHY THIS COULDNT OF COME IN EFFECT DURING THE 2010 SPRING SEMESTER.. NOT A WEEK BEFORE FALL CLASSES START..AND MAYBE THEN WE WOULD OF GOTTIN A BETTER UNDERSTANDING ON ALL THIS AND KNOWING WHAT THEY WANT FROM US "OSAGE" TRIBAL MEMEBERS TO GET THIS LITTLE 3500.00 DOLLARS..ITS ALREADY BAD ENOUGH THAT WE CAN EVEN GET HELP LIVING IN THE COUNTY WITH HOUSEING AND LIVING EXPENSE BECAUSE WE MAKE TO MUCH..NOW WE CANT GET HELP WITH SCHOOL BECAUSE WE MIGHT MAKE TO MUCH..ITS REAL SAD WHEN YOU TRY TO GO RENT A HOUSE AND YOU TELL THEM THAT THE TRIBE IS GOING TO HELP AND THE LANDLORD DONT REALLY WANT TO MESS WITH YOU BECAUSE THEY ALREADY WORKED WITH THE TRIBE BEFORE AND IT TOOK THEM MONTHS BEFORE THEY EVEN RECIEVED THERE FIRST MONTHS RENT..AND NOW COLLEGES ACROSS THE NATION IS GOING TO BE LOOKING AT THE TRIBE THE SAME WAY..NOT WANTING TO EXCEPT STUDENTS BECAUSE ITS GOING TO TAKE THEM MONTHS BEFORE THEY RECIEVE THERE MONEY..THIS ALL COULD OF BEEN AVOIDED IF THEY WOULD OF JUST DID AS THEY PROMISED AND WAITED FOR THE NEXT SEMESTER TO START WITH ALL THIS..

If the money is appropriated then there is no reason why any Osage student REGARDLESS of where they go to school should not receive the full amount. This whole tax issue is a moot point, and the messed up thing about it is that you can't really fight the argument because Executive will continue with that tired excuse of,"Well we have to talk to our attorneys." The only that this whole debacle can come to a conclusion is if a Congressman decides to draft a bill and then submits it to Executive. This is where it will surely get overturned but then we need Congress to override the veto. The wheels should be spinning right now, students are suffering.

I too am a student at the University of Oklahoma. I have to say that the timeing of this issue is completely inappropriate. I appreciate the intentions and efforts to look after the students best interest. However, school has been in session for three weeks now. We students need to be focused on our academic studies not on if and when will our bursar balance be paid or how will we buy our books and supplies for our classes. What harm could it have truely caused for our monies to be dispursed as usual and then propose changes for the spring semester?

I am a student at the University of Oklahoma. My only comment is that if there were going to be changes in the way we students applied for these scholarships, then the board should have made this clear last spring; not the same week that all tuition is due in full at most schools. I think the Education department and the Congress need to hear from the students who this will affect. After my tuition is paid, I will only receive maybe $1000. That amount will help with the cost of living, but only for the next month. It is hard for most students to work 20 hours a week and find time to study. These scholarships help to alleviate these expenses.
It is my belief that this issue should be tabled, researched, and restructured for the 2010-2011 school year. That way this kind of uproar doesn't occur again, and the students will actually be able to give their input on this issue.