WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen (both D-Md.) today lauded new funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) – a 14-percent increase in federal funding in the omnibus spending bill passed by Congress and signed into law Friday. The 14 percent funding increase, from $244.7 million in FY17 to $279.6 million in FY18, follows a request made by Senators Cardin and Van Hollen last month in a letter to the leadership of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies.
“Maryland’s four Historically Black Colleges and Universities – Bowie State University, Coppin State University, Morgan State University and University of Maryland Eastern Shore – are integral to our world-class university system,” said Senator Cardin. “Despite the recognition that our state’s HBCUs graduate a significant number of our state’s African American engineers and scientists, they have faced significant funding challenges. These schools provide a path for so many first-generation college students, many of whom come from under-served backgrounds. I am proud that our efforts to increase federal support have been successful, and I will continue to advocate for the resources these important institutions need to serve Maryland students.”
“Maryland’s HBCUs play a critical role in educating our students and preparing them to enter the workforce and enjoy a lifetime of success. This increased funding highlights the importance of HBCUs in our education system and will help provide our universities with the resources they need to continue to provide opportunities to Maryland students,” said Senator Van Hollen. “I will continue fighting for the necessary investments in HBCUs to ensure students from all backgrounds are able to achieve academic success.”
In addition to the increased funding for HBCUs, historically Black graduate institutions will also receive a 14-percent funding increase, from $63.3 million to $73.3 million. Predominantly Black Institutions will receive a boost from $9.9 million to $11.4 million.
Maryland’s HBCUs generate $1 billion in total economic impact for the state. Additionally, more than 9,300 jobs are generated for local and regional economies, and increase their graduates’ lifetime earnings by 58 percent more than workers without a college degree.
Last month, Senators Cardin and Van Hollen sent a letter with 12 of their colleagues to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies requesting that the upcoming omnibus bill contain a restoration and increase in federal support to HBCUs. Joining Jones and Harris, the letter was signed by Senators Booker, Brown, Casey, Carper, Coons, Durbin, Harris, Jones, Kaine, Nelson, Warner, and Warren. In addition to the increase in funding, the bill contains a directive to the Secretary of Education to create and execute an outreach plan to work with States and the Capital Financing Advisory Board to improve outreach to States and help additional public Historically Black Colleges and Universities participate in the program.
Text of the letter can be found below and at this link:
Dear Chairman Blunt and Ranking Member Murray:
As you prepare to finalize the FY 2018 appropriations process, we request that you restore and increase federal support to our nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). This is a critical time to invest in HBCUs, which collectively enroll more than 300,000 students. HBCUs serve a unique and crucial educational purpose, providing a gateway to the middle class for many first-generation, low-income, and minority Americans. Further, an HBCU education has been the common thread that runs through the stories of many of our nation’s great leaders, innovators, and job creators.
HBCUs make substantial contributions to the nation’s economic strength. A recent report by UNCF found that HBCUs generate $14.8 billion in annual economic impact, as well as over 134,000 jobs, both on-campus and off. Having an HBCU degree lifted the lifetime earnings of their graduates by 56% — or an estimated $927,000 – over what they would have earned without their degree. Increased federal aid will only add to the job creating capacity of these institutions, and support even more students who will be able to reap the benefits of having a degree from an HBCU. We strongly support funds from the bipartisan budget agreement being invested in HBCUs, and ask for an additional investment for HBCU priorities in the final FY 2018 appropriations bill.
While there are many programs across the federal agencies that are important to HBCUs, we want to highlight two of the most pressing HBCU priorities:
Title III, Part B of the Higher Education Act, Strengthening Historically Black Colleges and Universities, is the key program providing institutional support for academic programs, student services, infrastructure, and technology needs at the 101 accredited HBCUs. Because HBCUs have traditionally been under-resourced, this formula-based program provides critical support to daily functions on campus as well as innovative efforts to produce graduates prepared for the modern, global workforce. The House and Senate appropriations bills each freeze discretionary funding at $245 million for the program, but given increasing needs to serve the most economically and academically vulnerable students, additional resources are required. We ask for an increase in funding in the FY 2018 appropriations bill to help bring the program closer to full funding.
HBCU Capital Financing Program:
Despite the important role HBCUs play in higher education, they have struggled financially due to having smaller endowments, less money from alumni giving, and lower levels of federal investment. As a result, the infrastructure of many of these institutions has not kept pace with their growing student bodies and the demands of training students for careers in the 21st century. The HBCU Capital Financing Program provides HBCUs with access to capital financing or refinancing for the repair, renovation, and construction of campus infrastructure. To aid in the effectiveness of this program, we ask that in the FY2018 appropriations bill, that the subcommittee reclassify the escrow account as a bond insurance fund so that public institutions participating in the program have the opportunity to use state funds to pay off loans more quickly.
Thank you for your consideration.