UNCF Works with Bipartisan Support to Provide Relief for Eight Private HBCUs

UNCF worked with a bipartisan coalition including Representatives Budd, Adams and Scott, and with the DOE and Trump administration, to provide financial relief for institutions most impacted by the economic downturn in 2008 and the Parent Plus Loan crisis

Recently, the U.S. Department of Education announced the list of eight private historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) that are the first institutions impacted by the newly minted “deferment authority” of the HBCU Capital Finance Program. The institutions are Bennett College (Greensboro, NC); Florida Memorial University (Miami Gardens, FL); Huston-Tillotson University (Austin, TX); Saint Augustine’s College (Raleigh, NC); Shaw University (Raleigh, NC); Vorhees College (Denmark, SC); Wilberforce University (Wilberforce, OH); and Wiley College (Marshall, TX). All eight schools are UNCF-member institutions.

UNCF, noting the burden of the payments on its member institutions, worked with bipartisan partners at a hurried pace to have language empowering the secretary of education with the authority to grant loan deferment with a $10 million appropriation added to the FY 2018 Omnibus Appropriations Law, which was signed into law by President Trump in March. In addition to deferments for future fiscal years, the awarded institutions also received refunds from the federal government for their payments made during this current fiscal year.

The HBCU Capital Finance program is popular among HBCUs and has been helpful in building some much-needed facilities on HBCU campuses. Some institutions, however, have found it difficult to make the payments to service their debts due to the 2008 economic downturn and the slide in HBCU enrollment directly related to the change in requirements to the Parent Plus Loan Program, a federal student loan program available to the parents of dependent undergraduate students.

“I cannot say enough about how effective and responsive Republican Congressman Ted Budd (NC) and Democratic Congresswoman Alma Adams (NC) were in this process,” said Dr. Michael L. Lomax, president and CEO of UNCF. “They both worked together with us in record time to convince their fellow legislators to positively impact HBCUs that were being weighed down by the burden of debt servicing. We approached them both on Jan. 31, 2018. On March 23, President Trump signed that language and funding into law. Mr. Budd represents Bennett College, and Dr. Adams taught there for 40-plus years. Their advocacy efforts for HBCUs, like Bennett College, show what’s possible when we put aside our differences and come together. Dr. Phyllis Dawkins and Bennett College are very fortunate to have such deeply committed allies for education,” said Lomax.  Other instrumental members of Congress include Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA).

“Without a doubt, this is a landmark congressional and administrative achievement,” said Lodriguez Murray, UNCF vice president for public policy and government affairs. “This shows that in an era of hyper partisanship, educational institutions like HBCUs that have a mission-driven focus on African Americans, first-generation college students and those from lower-income backgrounds may well be the last item remaining that Congress can agree on in a bipartisan manner.”

“Education should not be a partisan issue. Period. It has been one of the honors of my Congressional career to fight for HBCUs like Bennett College. HBCUs serve as a bridge to their community and expand educational opportunities for students,” said Congressman Budd. “It’s been a pleasure working with Rep. Adams, Bennett College President Dawkins, and UNCF President Lomax to fight for language and funding that will help preserve important HBCUs like Bennett College in my district.”

“This reform to the HBCU Capital Financing Program will keep the doors open at eight of our HBCUs, preserving opportunity for hundreds of students in North Carolina, and thousands of students nationwide,” said Rep. Adams. “Congress and the Department of Education have made it clear: America needs HBCUs for our country to thrive. I am proud to have worked with this coalition, and I thank UNCF for their help in bringing this important effort across the finish line.”

“I am so glad to have worked with both Rep. Budd, Rep. Adams, Dr. Lomax, and Mr. Murray to get the deferment authority signed into law to benefit the ladies at Bennett College and all of the other UNCF-member institutions named today,” said Bennett College President Dawkins. “The world needs the strong ladies we produce, and this deferment means the future is bright for Bennett.”

Murray added, “Yes, we are thrilled that Congress, the education department and the White House have impacted the institutions chosen based on the criteria in the proper way, but there is more work to do. We have to ensure that Congress appropriates at least $10 million each of the next five fiscal years. The benefit to America will be stronger HBCUs, better equipped than ever to handle their finances and to provide their students with an education that changes their lives as well as the lives of their entire familial generation. Just look at the economic impact the institutions make in their communities and on their graduates.”

In 2017, UNCF released HBCUs Make America Strong: The Positive Economic Impact of Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The report notes that HBCUs make an annual impact of $14.8 billion to the national economy, while collectively generating hiring numbers like those in a Fortune 50 company. The report states that a single class of HBCU graduates can expect to earn collectively $130 billion.


Visit UNCF.org/HBCUStrong for full economic reports on all HBCUs as well as UNCF-member institutions.

 

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About UNCF

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. UNCF awards more than $100 million in scholarships annually and administers more than 400 programs, including scholarship, internship and fellowship, mentoring, summer enrichment, and curriculum and faculty development programs. Its logo features the UNCF torch of leadership in education and its widely recognized motto, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste, but a wonderful thing to invest in.”® Today, UNCF supports more than 60,000 students at more than 1,100 colleges and universities. Learn more at UNCF.org or for continuous news and updates, follow UNCF on Twitter @UNCF.