Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Congress Clears Education Department Budget with Funding Increases

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Congress Clears Education Department Budget with Funding Increases

Article excerpt

Minority-serving institutions will benefit from increases and earmarks.

Nearly three months into the federal fiscal year, Congress and President Barack Obama reached an agreement on a 2010 education spending bill that will increase funds for minority-serving institutions and student financial aid with the possibility of more gains ahead.

The bill approved in December would provide moderate to large increases for the Pell Grant program as well as federal programs for minority-serving colleges and universities. Hispanic leaders in particular were pleased with a 26 percent increase in the Hispanic Serving Institutions program, bringing total funding to $117 million. In addition, Congress provided $10.5 million for HSIs with graduate programs.

The funding "represents a major victory for HSIs," said Dr. Antonio Flores, president and CEO of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities.

In the same bill, which funded many other federal departments, HSIs would receive $6.25 million from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to support community-development programs.

HSIs also stand to receive more than $9 million from a separate Agriculture Department funding bill for fiscal 2010. That figure - a 50 percent increase from past funding - reflects implementation of several provisions from a recent farm bill that had provisions friendly to HSIs.

Historically Black colleges and universities also will gain increases in the education bill. Funding for the Title III HBCU program will increase by $28 million, to $266 million, while HBCU graduate institutions will receive $61 million, up $2 million.

HBCUs will get another $9.7 million from the housing bill for communitydevelopment programs.

"We've moved the needle a little bit," said Shari Crittendon, vice president of government affairs for the United Negro College Fund. "It's very helpful in these hard economic times."

HBCU leaders also are optimistic because minority-serving colleges would get additional money from the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA) that is winding its way through Congress. Approved by the House but pending in the Senate, SAFRA would provide an extra $85 million a year to Black colleges over the next 10 years.

In effect, it would continue the shortterm increase HBCUs and other minorityserving colleges received through the College Cost Reduction Act in 2007. That law provided extra funding but only for 2008 and 2009.

"Our goal is to get Title III to $1 billion," Crittendon told Diverse. …

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