Minority-Serving Institutions in Line For Funding Gains
WASHINGTON — President Clinton’s final education budget plan would give student aid and Black college programs some substantial funding gains next year.Total funding for historically Black colleges and universities would increase by $30 million, surpassing the $200 million barrier. The overall $209 million plan includes $169 million for the main HBCU program plus $40 million for HBCU graduate institutions.The HBCU increase of 17 percent is part of an across-the-board gain for minority-serving institutions. Hispanic-serving institutions would receive $62.5 million, an increase of $20 million from current funding, while tribal colleges would get $9 million, up from $6 million.Coupled with these individual increases are several new administration initiatives designed to help students of color and minority-serving institutions. For example, a new dual-degree program would promote partnerships between minority-serving institutions and other colleges and universities with a broader range of educational programs.The government would provide $40 million for this initiative, under which students would spend three years at an HBCU or HSI before moving to a partner institution for two additional years of study. After five years, the student would earn two degrees – one from an HBCU or HSI and another from the partner institution (see Black Issues, Feb. 17).Another new program, college completion grants, would give institutions more flexibility to offer services to at-risk students early in their college careers. Additional scholarship aid, summer services and other support services are among possible activities in this $35 million program, funded under the TRIO programs. U.S. Department of Education officials say the program’s main aim is to help increase retention rates, particularly among college students of color.Elsewhere, the budget plan would provide:$725 million for TRIO programs, an increase of $80 million from current funding;$325 million for GEAR UP, a new program to promote college awareness, up $125 million;$1.01 billion for college work study, a $77 million increase;$691 million for Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, up $60 million from current funding;$76 million for the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights, an increase of $4.8 million.$160 million for Perkins loans, up $30 million; and$224 million for Howard University, a $5 million increase.As expected, the budget also provides a $200 increase in the maximum Pell grant for the neediest students. If approved by Congress, the plan would allow a top grant of $3,500 next year.One of the administration’s chief higher education initiatives this year would create additional tax breaks for college. The College Opportunity Tax Cut would allow low- and middle-income families to deduct 28 percent of tuition costs, up to $5,000 a year. Administration officials say this plan would build on tax credits enacted in 1997 that created the HOPE Scholarship and a smaller credit to promote lifelong learning.The budget also would rescind a five-year limit on the time for which students may deduct interest on their college loans. Outside higher education, the administration proposed some hefty gains for a few preschoool programs. One of the largest winners would be Head Start; the preschool program would get another $1 billion increase in 2001, for total projected funding of $6.2 billion.
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