Feds Fund Three Types of Minority-Serving Institutions: Under New Education Department Programs, Money for Eligible Colleges and Universities Is Up for Grabs

Article excerpt

Colleges that do not qualify as historically Black colleges or tribal colleges but that still serve a significant number of African-Americans or American Indians have until late June to make their case for a share of $20 million in new federal funds for such institutions.

Funds are available under two new U.S. Department of Education programs approved by Congress: $15 million in grants for predominantly Black institutions (PBIs) and $5 million for non-tribal colleges, mostly in the western United States, that serve American Indian students.

To qualify as a non-tribal, Native American-serving institution, a college need only have an undergraduate enrollment that is 10 percent American Indian, the regulations state. The criteria for a predominantly Black institution are more detailed, although a core requirement is that the college or university have "at least 40 percent Black American students," the Department of Education says.

"It's not quite what we had envisioned," says Dr. Edison Jackson, president of Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, N.Y. Jackson tells Diverse that he had hoped that a college would need an enrollment that is 50 percent Black to qualify for the new program.

The lower cutoff likely will increase the number of eligible colleges and universities, he says. Nonetheless, "We are grateful that the program passed. This is a major plus."

Institutions such as Medgar Evers and Chicago State University have worked for years to gain a foothold in the federal budget alongside the larger programs for historically Black colleges, arguing that the mostly urban PBIs serve many low-income African-Americans who are the first generation in their families to attend college.

In the PBI competition, grant proposals can focus on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, as well as health education, teacher preparation and international issues. Another priority is to improve the educational outcome of Black males.

An individual college can receive up to $600,000, and the Department of Education expects to award about 25 grants.

In addition to the 40 percent Black enrollment requirement, a college must offer an associate or bachelor's degree and have at least 1,000 undergraduate students, the Bush administration says. …

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