Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Washington UPDATE

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Washington UPDATE

Article excerpt

ED Backs Continued Default-Rate Exemption for HBCUs

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) has asked Congress to extend the current exemption from default-rate penalties for historically Black colleges and universities.

HBCUs and tribally controlled colleges are exempt from the penalty framework, through which ED can deny access to loans and grants for students who attend schools with high default rates.

Under ED's plan, the exemption would continue through the year 2000. At that point, exemptions would continue for those institutions "showing improvement in their default rates."

Supporters of HBCUs and tribal colleges have called the exemption essential for institutions that serve a large number of low-income, disadvantaged students. Past studies have shown that many HBCUs would face default sanctions without the exemption.

However, the proposed change could leave some HBCUs vulnerable to default penalties if they fail to demonstrate progress, based on ED's draft. Those that face sanctions also may encounter a new default penalty system, if ED gets its way.

Another change sought by the department would cut the number of ways a school could face default penalties from two to one. Under the new plan, schools could lose access to all financial aid -- including grants and loans -- for three-year default rates in excess of 25 percent.

Under current law, schools with default rates above 25 percent for three consecutive years could lose access to loans. Schools could lose access to both grants and loans only for one-year default rates of 40 percent or more.

That change already faces criticism from some in higher education, including community colleges.

"We oppose any effort to link loss of loan eligibility with loss of eligibility for other programs," said Noah Brown, legislative director for the Association of Community College Trustees. Two-year college leaders have long criticized the existing system for hurting colleges with low tuitions and few borrowers.

The default penalty provisions are one part of a massive ED plan to reauthorize the Higher Education Act. Another change would limit the period over which a student could receive a Pell Grant. Under the change, a full-time student at a four-year college could receive grants for no longer than six years.

"We have one student who has received Pell Grants for nineteen years." said David Longanecker, assistant ED secretary for postsecondary education. "It's a statistic that really harms the credibility of the program."

Other ED proposals would reduce financial-aid paperwork for students, cut. loan origination fees, simplify rules for the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants program, and raise earned income limits to help more independent students qualify for financial aid.

Bill Would Expand HIS, Tribal and HBCU Funding

A congressional draft bill for Title III of the Higher Education Act (HEA) would expand funding for Hispanic-serving institutions (HSI) and tribal colleges and permit more historically Black graduate institutions to get federal aid.

Circulated in Washington, D.C., the draft would not grant HSIs and tribal institutions separate new sections of Title III. However, it would give them access to new federal funds and give these institutions flexibility in spending these dollars.

The bill would authorize $80 million for HSIs, up from the current $45 million. It also would simplify the system for institutions to qualify as an HSI, removing requirements for a specific percentage of students to be their family's first generation in college. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.