Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Washington UPDATE: Public Given Opportunity to Comment on Higher Education Spending

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Washington UPDATE: Public Given Opportunity to Comment on Higher Education Spending

Article excerpt

Washington UPDATE: Public Given Opportunity To Comment on Higher. Education Spending

The U.S. Education Department (ED) is gearing up for reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA) by holding a series of public hearings and roundtable meetings this month.

The public hearings are in preparation for next spring's congressional hearings on reauthorization of HEA, which includes all major federal programs for colleges and universities -- such as student financial aid, aid to developing institutions, and graduate assistance. The scheduled sites include: Atlanta, Phoenix, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, and Washington, D.C. The department also is holding invitation-only roundtable meetings of small groups in each city prior to each hearing, sources say.

Historically Black college and university (HBCU) presidents plan to participate in the public hearings, many at the regional session in Atlanta on December 6, said Hilary Shelton, acting government affairs director for The College Fund/UNCF. College Fund/UNCF leaders are also seeking a voice at the invitation-only roundtables.

In making its announcement, ED said it will "continue to strive to ensure access to higher education for all families." Reauthorization options will include: raising the maximum Pell Grant, improving programs for special needs students, and helping families save for college.

The department also reiterated its goals to provide HOPE Scholarships of $1,000 to every graduating high school student with a B average, and a $10,000 tax deduction for education and job training expenses. Continued support of direct loans and use of penalty-free withdrawals from retirement accounts were other items on ED's list of options.

The College Fund/UNCF and member institutions are working on their own reauthorization proposals and may have a package to unveil early this winter, according to Shelton, who indicated that priorities would include financial aid and continuation of Title III (institutional aid to HBCUs). …

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