Congress Responds to Advocacy Efforts from the HBCU Community with Emergency Aid in Stimulus
Over $1 billion set aside for HBCUs and MSIs
Today, the U.S. Senate introduced H.R. 748 or Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act ensuring just over $1 billion of dedicated funding for institutions like Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), and other Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) in response to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on operations. The United Negro College Fund (UNCF) took a leadership role calling on Congress to respond to the needs of HBCUs, which serve a disproportionately high percentage of low-income and first-generation college students. The disruption of classroom-based education to transition to distance learning and even assisting some students with travel back home has put a tremendous unforeseen financial strain on institutions that have historically been underfunded.
“I want to thank the congressional leadership for responding to our call and the needs of HBCUs, and indeed the rest of the higher education community,” said UNCF President and CEO Dr. Michael L. Lomax. “I call on the House and Senate to swiftly pass this legislation. Also, let me be clear: the COVID-19 pandemic is hitting HBCUs hard. All emergencies that hit the higher education system seem to hit HBCUs harder because we serve mostly Pell Grant eligible students. However, thankfully, this time Congress remembered us, our institutions and our students. Now, we will have the resources to ensure our colleges can make the transition to distance learning platforms that are necessary to continue educating our students.”
“The appropriate financial assistance to HBCUs, during this emergency, became our top priority and we are happy Congress swiftly delivered,” said UNCF Senior Vice President for Public Policy and Government Affairs Lodriguez V. Murray. “We conveyed to Congress that the digital divide is very real on our campuses. There is the need for distance education platforms, unfortunately some purchased under duress. Then, there are some students without either the proper technology or internet access in their homes. You add to that other scary propositions like loss of revenue, and you have a recipe which began to worry HBCU leaders.”
“There are some congressional leaders who stood up for HBCUs,” Murray continued. “They are to be commended. Included are Congresswoman Alma Adams, Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Karen Bass, House Education Committee Chairman Bobby Scott, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, Senator Cory Booker, Senator Doug Jones, Senator Kamala Harris, Senator Tim Scott, and others who signed letters of support in favor of resources and flexibility for our institutions during this national emergency. We also commend the Trump Administration and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos for their attention to the regulatory relief that was needed in higher education for institutions and students—and those changes will be helpful to HBCUs in the months ahead.”
UNCF (United Negro College Fund) is the nation’s largest and most effective minority education organization. To serve youth, the community and the nation, UNCF supports students’ education and development through scholarships and other programs, strengthens its 37 member colleges and universities, and advocates for the importance of minority education and college readiness. UNCF institutions and other historically black colleges and universities are highly effective, awarding nearly 20 percent of African American baccalaureate degrees. Today, UNCF supports more than 60,000 students at more than 1,100 colleges and universities across the country. Its logo features the UNCF torch of leadership in education and its widely recognized motto, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”® Learn more at UNCF.org, or for continuous updates and news, follow UNCF on Twitter at @UNCF.