House Passes Build Back Better, HBCU Improvements Included

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Monique LeNoir UNCF Communications 202.810.0231

Funding not included in original version from September makes way into bill to help HBCUs and students


Early this morning, the House of Representatives passed the Build Back Better bill, which is a proposal originally put forward by President Biden earlier this year. After lengthy debate, the party-line vote was a relief to those on Capitol Hill, but the relief to historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and students originally from low-to-moderate income backgrounds was the fact that this version of the bill contains funding for HBCUs five-times higher than the mid-September bill marked up in committee.

HBCUs can be proud that elected officials from executive and legislative branches stood with UNCF (United Negro College Fund) to make sure that while other popular provisions were eliminated, HBCU funding grew.

“First, my hat is off to every member of the House who supported this legislation,” said Dr. Michael L. Lomax, president and CEO of UNCF. “The billions of dollars that will support HBCUs will enable significant investments in operational improvements, infrastructure modernization, capacity building and research—all of which will strengthen America’s HBCUs and will better prepare our students now and in the future for the rigors and requirements of 21st century careers in the global workplace.

“I am grateful to so many House members who, once again, stood with HBCUs in voting for these increases and championed the needs of all low-income college students by including this significant increase in America’s needs-based scholarship, the Pell Grant,” Dr. Lomax continued. “Now, I call on all members of the Senate to support this historic legislation and send it to President Biden for his signature.”

“’Tell them we are Rising’ isn’t just a slogan or program title anymore,” said Lodriguez V. Murray, senior vice president for public policy and government affairs at UNCF. “The House-passed Build Back Better bill saw funding for HBCUs, and similar institutions grow from $2 billion to $10 billion—and our policy differences were completely resolved.  If you want to know the power of HBCUs, UNCF and the Members of Congress who fight for them, there you have it.

“While we have many Members of Congress to thank,” Murray continued, “from the House leadership, including Whip James Clyburn (D-SC), to CBC Chairwoman Joyce Beatty (D-OH), Higher Education Subcommittee Chairwoman Frederica Wilson (D-FL), and Education Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA), we must show particular gratitude to Bipartisan HBCU Caucus founder and co-chair Alma Adams (D-NC). Her advocacy, behind closed doors and out in the open, is a game changer for our institutions. Now, the Senate must work its will. All we ask is that the needs of our institutions and the students who need the most assistance be at the forefront as this bill advances.”



$6 billion for Higher Education Act Title III programs

  • Page 86
  • Education and Labor Title- Sec. 20025
  • Split on the mandatory formulae- HBCUs receive roughly ~$2 billion in total

$3 billion for Research and Development Infrastructure Competitive Grant Program

  • Page 92
  • Education and Labor Title- Sec. 20026
  • HBCUs could receive any amount, likely between 33% and 50% (~$1 to $1.5 billion) 

$200 million for capacity building at MSIs

  • Page 882  
  • Science, Space, and Technology Title- Sec. 90015 
  • No explicit details provided; FY22 only  

$100 million for MSIs via NSF Research Infrastructure

  • Page 883  
  • Science, Space, and Technology Title- Sec. 90016  
  • No explicit details given; for academic research facility modernizations and research instruments in FY22 only 

Access to Uplift Incubators

  • Page 887
  • Small Business Title- Sec. 100201
  • HBCUs and other MSIs can apply to be an ‘uplift incubator,’ which will allow them access to competitive grant funds to help eligible small businesses support minority communities
  • Total funding for the program: $1 billion

Access to Scholarships via ‘Establishing Rural and Underserved Pathway to Practice Training Programs for Post-Baccalaureate Students and Medical Students’

  • Page 1471
  • Ways and Means Title- Sec. 137402
  • HBCU graduates would be eligible for scholarships to attend medical schools
  • No appropriation given; inserted in Chapter 16 of Title 42 of USC- (Public Health and Welfare)


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, supports and 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% of African American baccalaureate degrees. UNCF administers more than 400 programs, including scholarship, internship and fellowship, mentoring, summer enrichment, and curriculum and faculty development programs. Today, UNCF supports more than 60,000 students at over 1,100 colleges and universities across the country. Its logo features the UNCF torch of leadership in education and its widely recognized trademark, A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”® Learn more at or for continuous updates and news, follow UNCF on Twitter at @UNCF.