Trump Administration’s FY 2018 Budget Blueprint Falls Short on New Investments In HBCUs
Ashlei Stevens, UNCF Communications
WASHINGTON—UNCF today issued the following statement regarding President Donald Trump’s FY 2018 federal budget blueprint and its potential impact on historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs):
“Last month, while meeting with presidents of the nation’s HBCUs, President Trump pledged to do more for HBCUs than any other president has done before; however, this budget is not reflective of that sentiment. Without strong federal investments, President Trump’s commitment to HBCUs and the rebuilding of African American communities will be promises unfulfilled,” said Dr. Michael L. Lomax, UNCF president and CEO. “While the budget blueprint released today provides only an outline of the Administration’s budget priorities, we are deeply concerned about the proposals highlighted for the U.S. Department of Education, which include flat (or potentially reduced) funding for the essential Title III Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUS) program and deep cuts to federal student aid programs.”
The proposed $3.9 billion cut to Pell Grant funds would shortchange needed increases to boost the historically low purchasing power of Pell grants for financially needy students, including the 70 percent of HBCU students who receive these grants to earn college degrees. The proposed elimination of Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, which supplement Pell awards to the poorest students to pay college tuition, would negatively impact more than 55,000 HBCU students who rely on this assistance to go to and through college. We agree with the budget’s aim to better target Federal Work-Study funds to needy students; however, reductions to these funds could impact more than 26,000 HBCU students who receive work-study jobs that not only help pay for college expenses, but also enhance their employment prospects. UNCF’s recent study, Fewer Resources, More Debt, documents that HBCU students incur more student loan debt than other students, despite attending affordable institutions; yet, the student aid reductions in the FY 2018 budget blueprint would increase their debt burden.
UNCF is encouraged to see that the president’s budget includes increased funding for charter schools, which should be directed to high-quality educational options for students and parents. UNCF has long worked to build a better narrative in black education to produce college-ready African American students, and HBCUs have a long history of training culturally-competent, effective teachers. We look forward to partnering with the administration to advance this work.
“If we truly want to make America great again, we must invest in the first-generation, low-income students of color, who will become the college-educated workforce needed to fill high-skilled jobs of the 21st-century global economy—and the HBCUs that produce these college graduates,” Lomax said.
A recent Georgetown University study shows that more than 95 percent of jobs created since the Great Recession have gone to workers with at least some college education, primarily high-skill managerial and professional jobs. These findings make it clear that a college degree continues to be—and will increasingly become— the most important asset for those who want to succeed in the labor market.
The historic signing of the White House Executive Order 132779–White House Initiative to Promote Excellence and Innovation at Historically Black Colleges and Universities–laid the foundation for the Trump Administration to prioritize HBCUs, but it was only the first step toward providing “equitable opportunities for HBCUs to participate in federal programs”— one of the executive order’s key goals.
UNCF strongly urges the Trump Administration to reconsider federal funding commitments for HBCUs and their students so that the executive order does not become a “toothless tiger.” Toward that end, UNCF sent a letter to Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney today, outlining needed key FY 2018 federal investments for HBCUs. UNCF hopes that the Administration will seriously consider these recommendations and the value of HBCUs as it continues to develop the line-item details in its budget.
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 20 percent of African American baccalaureate degrees. UNCF annually awards $100 million in scholarships and 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 more than 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 UNCF.org, or for continuous news and updates, follow UNCF on Twitter, @UNCF and #HBCUsMatter.