Black colleges will fight cut to federal program
By JUSTIN POPE – 6 hours ago
Leaders of historically black colleges say they'll fight a reduction in a federal program they call a financial lifeline at a time of economic distress for the schools and their students.
President Barack Obama's education budget, unveiled Thursday, included major spending increases in many areas — but didn't include an extra $85 million that black institutions have received annually for the past two years thanks to a 2007 change to the student loan laws.
That two-year-old program provided direct funds to federally recognized HBCUs — historically black colleges and universities.
Other direct federal support to the schools would increase from $238 million to $250 million, but with the expiration of the HBCU fund the schools effectively would see a $73 million cut.
A program supporting Native American tribal colleges would also see decreased funding, while one for institutions serving large numbers of Hispanic students would see an increase from $93 million to $98 million.
Education Department officials emphasized that all such institutions stand to gain from other parts of the budget, notably the proposed increase in the maximum Pell Grant for low-income students by $200 — to $5,550.
Still, the move could suggest that even as the administration pushes big education spending increases focused on low-income and minority students, direct support for institutions isn't the most favored method. The HBCU program is unusual; most federal help for higher education goes to students, and thus only indirectly to schools.
"The administration is definitely committed to strengthening HBCUs and other colleges and universities that serve minority populations," said Carmel Martin, assistant secretary of education, on a press conference call Thursday. "And one of the best ways we can do that is by supporting our students."
The historically black colleges and universities have been hit particularly hard by the recession, and HBCU leaders said this is no time to cut back on programs offering direct support to institutions that play an outsized role educating the neediest students.
The 105 federally recognized HBCUs make up just 3 percent of U.S. colleges but account for nearly 20 percent of undergraduate degrees awarded to blacks, according to UNCF, the United Negro College Fund. However, some have struggled with low graduation rates. An AP analysis earlier this year found that, overall, black students at four-year HBCUs have lower graduation rates than black students at other schools.
HBCUs have about 132,000 students receiving Pell grants, according to an Associated Press analysis of federal figures collected by the nonprofit group The Education Trust. Even if all got the maximum $200 Pell Grant increase, that would provide HBCUs new revenue totaling only about one-third of the funding cut outlined in the budget.
Cutting funding to HBCU's, but INCREASING funding for Hispanics?
Another article on this - hat tip Black Woman Rising
FromDiverse Issues in Higher Education
I happen to concur with George Curry:
A Stimulus Plan for Black Colleges
By George E. Curry
May 4, 2009
We need a stimulus plan to preserve and expand historically Black colleges. If the federal government can come up with rationalizations for bailing out Wall Street, making sure there is No Bank Left Behind and pumping millions into what comedian Bill Maher calls Notorious A.I.G., it can produce a stimulus plan for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
Established in the post-Civil War era known as Reconstruction, HBCUs have made phenomenal contributions to the nation, producing such alumni as W.E. B. DuBois, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Mary McMcLeod Bethune, Thurgood Marshall, Bishop T.D. Jakes, Oprah Winfrey, Doug Wilder, Former Surgeon General David Satcher, Sean “P.Diddy” Combs, Astronaut Ronald E. McNair, Attorney Willie Gary, legendary football coaches Jake Gaither and Eddie Robinson and pro athletes such as Althea Gibson, Jerry Rice, John Stallworth, Doug Williams and Walter Payton.
Although there are a significant number of 2- and 4-year colleges with predominantly Black enrollments, only 105 qualify as HBCUs. The Higher Education Act of 1965 defines an HBCU as “Any historically black college or university that was established prior to 1964, whose principal mission was, and is, the education of black Americans…”
Black colleges represent only 3 percent of the nation’s universities, but they produce 23.6 percent of all bachelor’s degrees earned by Blacks. In the math and sciences, that figure is more than 40 percent. The United Negro College Fund reports that Black colleges have produced 70 percent of all Black doctors and dentists and half of all African-American engineers.
There are thousands of similar HBCU success stories.
But in recent years, many HBCUs have been struggling because of a combination of factors, including underfunding. That’s why I am proposing that Congress and the Obama administration pass a 5-year, $5 billion stimulus plan for Black colleges. According to the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges, there are 105 HBCUs. So an expenditure of $1 billion per year for five years would mean that each college could average nearly $1 million per year for the next five years. If we can bail out Notorious A.I.G., we can and should help save our HBCUs. In fact, saving them is in the national interest.
My grandmother was able to make her way and not be cleaning up after White people because her parents scraped to send her to Natchez College. She made sure that all her daughters would never wind up cleaning or washing for White folks in the Jim Crow South because of Fisk, Tuskegee, Jackson State, and Atlanta University. Daddy made it out of the Jim Crow South through the G.I. Bill and Lane College. My own niece, who didn't get her bearings in high school, found her way at Tuskegee. I have a cousin that I worried about the social part of college, who just completed his successful freshmen year at FAMU.
Mine is just one family. HBCU's have been serving THIS COUNTRY for generations.