UNCF Statement on the Passage of the Fiscal Year 2018 Omnibus Appropriations Bill
On Wednesday, March 21, Congressional leaders released H.R. 1625, a consolidated appropriations bill that wraps 12 annual spending bills into one measure with all discretionary government funding for the remainder of Fiscal Year (FY) 2018. This legislation includes significant investments in historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and minorities seeking higher education, and UNCF (United Negro College Fund) is satisfied with the House passage and Senate support.
“This measure shows what can happen when the Congress and president listen to our concerns. And they did! We put forward an agenda on how to make college affordable for minorities and those from low- to moderate-income backgrounds. UNCF has been pushing for these increases for more than a year and this bill reflects our steadfast determination by making significant investments in HBCUs and the programs like Title III and the Capital Finance Debt Relief Program that help students get to and through college,” said Dr. Michael Lomax, President and CEO of UNCF.
UNCF took a leadership role in working across party lines with both Houses of Congress and the White House to identify investment opportunities to improve education opportunities for students of color. With a diverse coalition of Members of Congress, including Senator Doug Jones (AL), Sen. Kamala Harris (CA), 12 other senators from 12 different states, and the entire Congressional Black Caucus, strong investments were made in the Department of Education’s Strengthening HBCUs Program. Additionally, when the Department of Education needed additional authority to accommodate the concerns of HBCUs participating in the Capital Finance Program, UNCF led on the issue and worked with a bi-partisan coalition headed by Rep. Tedd Budd (NC) and Rep. Alma Adams (NC), along with others like Rep. Bobby Scott (VA). The Education Secretary’s new authority will be impactful to HBCUs, and their students, as those colleges are strengthened for the future.
“When asked if the 115th Congress and President Trump kept their promises by making investments in HBCUs, we could not answer that question until today,” said Lodriguez Murray, UNCF Vice President for Public Policy and Government Affairs. “Yes, this bill represents a meaningful and measurable investment in HBCUs and the students our institutions serve. The FY 2018 omnibus bill increases investments in student support like Pell Grants, Federal Work Study, and Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG); increases in institutional support like the Title III Strengthening HBCUs program, Strengthening Historically Black Graduate Institutions (HBGI) program, and Predominantly Black College programs; pipeline programs to prepare our future higher education students like Federal TRIO, and GEAR UP, and programs to increase diversity in the medical, dental, engineering, and STEM fields.”
[Click here for the noteworthy programmatic increases in the FY 2018 omnibus that are meaningful to communities of color in higher education.]
“African American students have unique challenges to overcome as they seek college and subsequent degrees,” said Lomax. “Federal investments are a huge step in the right direction. We thank so many in the Executive and Legislative branches who made this compromise legislation possible. However, while the investments to strengthen the institutions and prepare the graduates of the future are a step in the right direction, more must be done to reach the goals UNCF has set to make education the equalizer in America,” said Lomax.
“This year, 300,000 students are on HBCU campuses learning how to be the professionals, entrepreneurs, and innovators of the future. 50,000 will graduate this year. Now is the time to invest in HBCUs. As UNCF’s recent study, HBCUs Make America Strong indicates, HBCUs make a collective annual impact of nearly $15 billion on our national economy, employ like a Fortune 50 company, and increase a graduate’s lifetime earnings by well over $900,000,” said Lomax.
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. Today, UNCF supports more than 60,000 students at over 1,100 colleges and universities. 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.”®