Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

House, Senate Differ on HBCU Funding

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

House, Senate Differ on HBCU Funding

Article excerpt

The House of Representatives and the Senate are at odds over how to fund historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) next year.

In late July, the Senate unveiled a spending bill that would freeze funding for HBCUs at current levels in 1998. Earlier in July, however, House appropriators recommended $120 million for HBCUs, an $11 million increase from current funding.

House members also added an extra $5 million for HBCU graduate institutions that failed to make it into the Senate bill. Current funding for HBCU graduate schools is $19 mil lion, the same amount recommended in the Senate measure.

The Clinton administration's 1998 budget differs from both the House and Senate plans. The White House recommended a $4 million increase for the main HBCU program, but level funding for the graduate program.

The differences between the two bills amount to $15 million in a $34 billion education budget, however, and congressional aides down played the funding disparity. The House and Senate frequently [TABULAR DATA OMITTED] recommend different spending levels for federal programs only to resolve the issue when faced with a tight deadline before the start of the government's next fiscal year.

Advocates for Black colleges are pushing for the higher funding figure in the House bill. After presenting their spending recommendations, both houses of Congress adjourned until September, when the pace of action will pick up again. The government's new fiscal year begins Oct. 1.

The spending bills also show differences between the House and Senate in recommendations for student financial aid programs. The Senate bill would not increase funding for college work/study, even though the White House and the House favor more funding.

However, the Senate chose to provide a $50 million increase for Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, a need-based program that has remained at level funding, at $583 million, for much of the 1990s. Both the House and the Clinton administration proposed level funding for this program.

The House would cut funds for Perkins Loans, another campus-based program, while the Education Department (ED) and the Senate recommend increases (see chart below).

Funding for Pell Grants would increase under both bills, and the House and Senate each assume a $300 increase in the maximum grant, to $3,000 next year. If enacted into law, the Pell figure would represent the third consecutive increase for the program.

Still to be resolved is whether ED can target more Pell Grant aid to independent students, who usually are older than the average college population. …

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