Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

`Wartime' Budget Has Few Higher Education Increases; Historically Black Colleges Are among the Projected Winners. (Washington Update)

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

`Wartime' Budget Has Few Higher Education Increases; Historically Black Colleges Are among the Projected Winners. (Washington Update)

Article excerpt

The Bush administration's self-described "wartime budget" for 2003 would hold the line on higher education spending, with most programs receiving level funding or small cutbacks next year.

The maximum Pell Grant would remain at $4,000, while college work-study, supplemental education grants and TRIO programs would receive no increases.

One of the few winners -- as expected -- is the Title III Higher Education Act program for historically Black colleges. The budget follows through on a pledge President Bush made in January to increase support for HBCUs by 3.1 percent next year. Hispanic-serving institutions and tribal colleges would get similar percentage increases.

"As the country deals with the priority of homeland security ... I'm pleased that our traditional programs have not lost funds," says Dr. Frederick Humphries, president of the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Education (NAFEO). "I'm glad to see that Title III was not cut and that financial aid was not cut."

However, Humphries says he would like to see a greater Title III increase when Congress writes its 2003 spending bills, which can deviate from the president's plan. NAFEO will develop recommendations for release to Congress later this year, he says.

The main HBCU grant program would increase from $206 million to $213 million next year, while HBCU graduate institutions would get an extra $1.8 million for a budget of nearly $51 million.

Bush administration leaders cited wartime needs in presenting only modest increases in domestic discretionary spending. The bulk of new spending in the budget plan would go to defense as well as anti-terrorism measures at home.

Pell Grant funding has "more than doubled in the last five years," says William Hansen, deputy education secretary, when questioned about the lack of increases in student aid. "There is more money than ever going into higher education and most of that money is going to low-income students."

While most major increases in the new budget target K-12 or special education programs, Hansen noted that the budget would maintain a $4,000 Pell Grant maximum at a time when the program is running a major shortfall. Increased student demand for funds may leave a $1.3 billion shortfall this year, and the president's budget includes an extra $500 million to prevent another shortfall next year.

Despite the recommendations, however, higher education leaders are expected to ask Congress for an increase in the maximum grant. …

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