WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen (both D-Md.) joined a group of 22 Senators in cosponsoring legislation to permanently extend and increase mandatory funding levels for minority-serving institutions, including Maryland’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The Strengthening Minority-Serving Institutions Act will increase mandatory funding levels from $255 million to $300 million for HBCUs and other minority-serving institutions of higher education. A majority of this funding is currently set to expire in Fiscal Year 2019 and the other part of the funding expired in Fiscal Year 2014, leaving already financially strapped schools without the resources needed to serve their students.
“Maryland’s four HBCUs – Bowie State University, Coppin State University, Morgan State University and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore – have provided students with a high-quality education despite long-standing underfunding,” said Senator Cardin. “The Strengthening Minority-Serving Institutions Act will help ensure these pillars of our communities can count on federal funds being available to bolster academic opportunities for students and educators and make needed facilities repairs and renovations. This legislation, in addition to the bipartisan efforts to increase discretionary funding for HBCUs by more than $37.8 million over the past two fiscal years, is a step in the right direction for Maryland’s HBCUs.”
“HBCUs in Maryland and across the country play a critical role in educating our students and preparing them for successful careers. This legislation would help ensure our universities have the resources they need to continue to provide opportunities to Maryland students,” said Senator Van Hollen. “I will keep fighting for the necessary investments to make sure students from all backgrounds are able to achieve academic success.”
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently investigated the capital finance needs of HBCUs. Its report found that 46-percent of all HBCU buildings are in need of repair or replacement due to deferred maintenance. Compounding this challenge are the difficulties HBCUs face when attracting revenue from diverse sources and the smaller endowments they maintain, which can impact their credit rating. GAO also found that HBCUs have endowments that are approximately half of those of similar non-HBCUs. None of the top 90 institutions with endowments over $1 billion are HBCUs.
The funds provided for in the legislation could be put toward capital improvement needs, as well as faculty and curriculum development and student services.
Under the Strengthening Minority-Serving Institutions Act:
- Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) would receive $99,875,000, an increase of nearly $15 million in capacity-building funding;
- Predominantly Black Institutions (PBIs), such as Baltimore City Community College and Prince George’s Community College, would be eligible for a competitive grant program funded at $17,625,000, an increase of $2.6 million, with each school eligible for $600,000 grants;
- Hispanic-Serving Institutions would receive $117.5 million, an increase in $17.5 million in capacity-building funding, with priority for STEM and Articulation programs; and
- All other Minority-Serving Institutions would receive $65 million, an increase of $10 million in capacity-building funding.
Senator Doug Jones (D-Ala.) introduced the legislation earlier this week. In addition to Senators Cardin and Van Hollen, the full list of cosponsors includes Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Jon Tester (D-Mont.).