Nov 05 2019
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA), members of the Congressional Bipartisan Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCU) Caucus, today joined 36 of their colleagues in a new push to pass funding for HBCUs and other minority-serving institutions (MSIs). In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the Senators called for the immediate passage of the bipartisan FUTURE Act, which would reauthorize $255 million in mandatory federal funding for these institutions, which expired on September 30, 2019. The House of Representatives approved the legislation unanimously in September.
“HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs are an essential component of America’s higher education and workforce development system,” the Senators wrote. “Given the importance of this funding to hundreds of institutions and millions of students, we request that the Senate delay no longer and take up the bipartisan FUTURE Act immediately to avoid permanent damage to our nation’s historic colleges.”
Virginia is home to five HBCUs whose funding would be preserved by the FUTURE Act. Virginia State University, Norfolk State University, Hampton University, Virginia Union University, and Virginia University of Lynchburg received nearly $4 million in funding last year, which is now at risk unless Congress passes the FUTURE Act.
Sens. Warner and Kaine continue to be longtime advocates of HBCUs. Earlier this year, both Senators supported the permanent reauthorization of the Land Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which also includes a provision to support the preservation of HBCU campuses that are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Last year, Virginia Union, Hampton University, Virginia State, and Virginia University of Lynchburg received grants totaling $2.27 million under the HBCU grant program.
In addition to Sens. Warner and Kaine, the letter was led by Sens. Doug Jones (D-AL) and Jon Tester (D-MT) and signed by Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Chris Coons (D-DE), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Tom Udall (D-NM), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Tina Smith (D-MN), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Bob Casey (D-PA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Tom Carper (D-DE), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Gary Peters (D-MI), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Ed Markey (D-MA), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).
A copy of the letter can be found below.
November 4, 2019
Dear Leader McConnell and Leader Schumer:
We write today to respectfully request immediate Senate consideration of the Fostering Undergraduate Talent by Unlocking Resources for Education (FUTURE) Act. This important bipartisan legislation would reauthorize funding for Title III, Part F of the Higher Education Act of 1965, which provides mandatory funds for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs), and other minority serving-institutions (MSIs). Mandatory funding benefiting these institutions lapsed on September 30, 2019.
HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs are an essential component of America’s higher education and workforce development system. MSIs serve nearly 6 million students, accounting for more than one-quarter of all undergraduates across the nation. These institutions enroll a significant share of all students of color. For example, HSIs account for nearly 15 percent of all non-profit colleges and universities, but enroll two-thirds of all Hispanic students. Also, while HBCUs only comprise 8.5 percent of all four-year institutions, they enroll, on average, 24 percent of all black undergraduates pursuing a bachelor’s degree, graduate 26 percent of all black bachelor’s degrees, and graduate 32 percent of STEM degrees earned by black students. The student population across all TCUs is 78 percent American Indian and Alaska Native. Similarly, these schools disproportionately enroll low-income students – more than 75 percent of students at HBCUs and 90 percent of students at TCUs receive Pell Grants, compared to only 32 percent of all students.
Title III, Part F funding is critical to ensuring these institutions are able to best serve their students. This funding is used for an array of purposes across campuses. Many schools use these funds to improve student services and academic programs like counseling, tutoring, mentoring, and STEM and career training programs. Numerous institutions use the funding to perform technology maintenance and expansion in order to provide students with up-to-date technology and vital learning opportunities such as computer labs, research institutes, and educational experiences. Others put the investment toward capital improvements like constructing affordable housing, renovating facilities, and creating learning spaces for students. All told, the Title III, Part F funding is a lifeline for these institutions to strengthen their academic, administrative, and fiscal capacities.
The bipartisan FUTURE Act will allow HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs across the country to keep their doors open and continue to generate more opportunities for their students, disproportionate percentages of whom are for the low-income students and students of color. This funding stream plays a vital role in increasing institutional capacity at MSIs and in generating more opportunities for students of color to attain degrees in STEM fields and secure good-paying jobs, generating a strong economic impact. HBCUs, for example, have created over 134,000 jobs and have produced over $10 billion in gross regional product and a total annual economic impact of nearly $15 billion.
Unfortunately, funding for this program lapsed due to Senate inaction last month. The House of Representatives passed the FUTURE Act by a voice vote last month. Given the importance of this funding to hundreds of institutions and millions of students, we request that the Senate delay no longer and take up the bipartisan FUTURE Act immediately to avoid permanent damage to our nation’s historic colleges.