Minority-serving colleges and universities would lose some of last year’s hard-fought funding gains under President Bush’s proposed education budget plan for next year.
The $301-trillion budget would cut funding for historically Black colleges and universities by $85 million, wiping out most of the extra funds Congress approved for these programs last year. To help low-income and at-risk students, lawmakers in 2007 endorsed and President Bush signed the College Cost Reduction Act (CCRA) with a permanent increase in Pell Grants and $500 million in supplementary funding for minority-serving colleges and universities.
But the president’s budget blueprint released Monday would remove any net increase for HBCUs in 2009. It would add in $85 million guaranteed through CCRA but reduce the program’s regular appropriation from $238 million to $153 million. Funding for HBCU graduate institutions would remain unchanged at $57 million.
For Hispanic-serving institutions, the bill would make a smaller cut of $19 million. “We were shocked and very disappointed,” said Antonio Flores, president of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities.
Flores noted that the federal program for HSIs has sustained cuts or freezes for several years prior to CCRA’s enactment, despite steady enrollment growth.
“I thought that the last year of his presidency, he would compensate for what he hasn’t done in the last seven years,” Flores said.
The plan also drew criticism on Capitol Hill. “Once again, the president has proposed a budget that shortchanges our nation’s Hispanic-serving institutions and the students they serve,” said Rep. Rubén Hinojosa, D-Tex., chairman of the House higher education subcommittee.
Tribal colleges also would lose about $20 million from the final 2008 level.
“This is a budget that has tough choices in it,” said Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, in unveiling the measure on Monday.
FUNDING FOR MINORITY-SERVING COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES
2008 Mandatory (CCRA)
The budget plan stated that the government’s HBCU and HSI programs both have received ratings of “results not demonstrated” under the administration’s evaluation process.
In outlining its plan, the department said HBCUs still would receive the same amount of funding as in 2007, while HSIs and tribal colleges would realize net gains over that two-year period even with the newly proposed reductions.
Flores told Diverse he expects to talk with other leaders in the MSI sector to coordinate a strategy for appealing to Congress.
Elsewhere, the budget would freeze funding for TRIO and GEAR UP programs at $885 million and $303 million, respectively.
The maximum Pell Grant for needy students would increase to $4,800 next year, up from $4,731 in 2008.
The president’s budget also would zero out Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, a $757 million program with additional grants to low-income students. College work-study would be level funded at $980 million.
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