Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

UNCF Urges Federal Funding for Black Colleges in 2000

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

UNCF Urges Federal Funding for Black Colleges in 2000

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON UPDATE: UNCF Urges More Federal Funding For Black Colleges in 2000

The College Fund/UNCF is asking Congress for budget increases that would propel the government's historically Black college funding program past the $200 million mark next year.

College Fund/UNCF President William Gray, a former member of Congress, personally presented the proposal to the House Appropriations Committee on April 21. The testimony marked Gray's first address to his former colleagues since he left Congress in 1991, UNCF officials say.

The plan calls for a $40 million, or 25 percent, increase in HBCU funding, for a total appropriation of $205 million in fiscal year 2000. Gray proposed $165 million for the main HBCU program, up from $134.5 million this year, and $40 million for the HBCU graduate program now funded at $30 million.

"HBCUs are a major source of African American college graduates and Black professionals in America," including more than half of African American teachers, Ph.D.s, and physicians, he says. Yet, "our schools have accomplished all this for a fraction of the cost compared to that of majority, institutions.

"I know you have limited resources, and competing interests and priorities. But let me remind you that every dollar invested in education is an investment not only in changing a person's life, but in America."

In a show of solidarity with Latino colleagues, Gray and the College Fund/UNCF also endorsed the president's proposal to expand aid to Hispanic-serving institutions by 50 percent next year -- from $28 million to $42.4 million. HSIs receive funding in a separate section of the Higher Education Act.

"The nation's historically Black colleges and universities, Hispanic-serving institutions, and other minority institutions are best suited to enroll and educate tomorrow's workforce," he says.

Gray outlined an ambitious proposal for all of the government's student financial aid programs, which he called essential to reach students from disadvantaged families. For example, the plan contains a major increase in collegework/study funds, from $870 million to $1 billion next year.

It also recommends a down payment on a new program -- the Thurgood Marshall Legal Education Opportunity Program. …

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