UNCF Issues Statement on FY 2018 Senate Support for HBCUs

On Thursday, Feb. 22, 14 U.S. Senators (from 12 different states) wrote the education appropriations leadership of their chamber to champion HBCU investments following the bi-partisan agreement to raise the budget caps for fiscal years 2018 and 2019. Leading this effort were Senators Doug Jones (D-AL) and Kamala Harris (D-CA). The senators asked that the Title III Strengthening Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Program receives funding increases in the FY 2018 appropriation process, set to end by March 23, 2018. UNCF has asked for an additional $130 million to bring the program to $375 million for the entire HBCU community.

While HBCUs have many funding priorities before the 115th Congress, the Jones-Harris led correspondence focused on two priorities: investments in historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) institutions and students via the Title III Strengthening Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Program and increased support of the HBCU Capital Finance Program. The Strengthening HBCUs Program, the top priority of the HBCU community, provides funding for academic programs, students services, technology and infrastructure needs. 

The HBCU Capital Finance Program provides low-cost capital to finance improvements to the infrastructure or refinancing for repair, renovation and construction on HBCU campuses. Senators are asking Congress to reclassify the funding’s holdings so that some institutions can move to pay off their loans faster.

Unveiled Feb. 7, the bipartisan budget agreement provided an additional $2 billion for education priorities. On an annual basis, HBCUs collectively enroll over 300,000 students and graduate more than 50,000 students.  HBCUs often have a mission-driven focus that attracts first-generation students who also tend to come to college from underserved economic backgrounds. Underscored by the findings in UNCF’s landmark study, HBCUs Make America Strong: The Positive Economic Impact of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, HBCUs show their vitality by making a national $15 billion economic impact each year—together employing like a Fortune 200 company—and improving each graduate’s lifetime income by well over $900,000 (compared to if they had not attended an HBCU).  UNCF President and CEO Dr. Michael Lomax adds, “The investments called upon by Sen. Jones, Sen. Harris and all those who joined their effort will help HBCUs to increase the number of students we serve, increase the number of graduates we produce, and increase the positive economic impact that HBCUs are having in so many communities.  HBCUs mean improved lives of the entire generation of each of our students as well as employment opportunities in the communities where we serve. I commend all 14 senators, but I especially thank Sen. Jones and Sen. Harris for leading an effort to invest in institutions that invest in the future of our country every single day.”

Sen. Jones, the junior senator from Alabama, counts 15 HBCUs in his state, including five UNCF-member institutions:  Miles College, Oakwood College, Stillman College, Talladega College, and Tuskegee University.  Sen. Harris, the second African American woman elected to the U.S. Senate, was educated at HBCU Howard University.

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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 20 percent of African American baccalaureate degrees.  UNCF annually awards $100 million in scholarships and administers more than 400 programs, including scholarships, 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 terrible thing to waste.”®  Learn more at UNCF.org, or for continuous news and updates, follow UNCF on Twitter @UNCF.