WASHINGTON, DC (February 11, 2020) – The Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) appreciates President Trump’s consistent commitment to not cut budget items of particular importance to Historically Black College and Universities (HBCUs), despite making significant cuts to other domestic programs in his FY 2021 Budget (Budget). This decision to not cut HBCU funding highlights the Administration’s recognition of the immense value in continuing to invest in these important institutions of higher learning. In addition, the Budget proposes targeting $150 million to support science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) activities at HBCUs and other institutions serving historically disadvantaged students located in Opportunity Zones.
Despite this genuinely positive decision, the Budget includes several cuts that, if enacted, would materially harm HBCUs and the students they serve. Eliminating the Federal Supplemental Equal Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) Program and cutting the Federal Work-Study program in half would have a major negative impact on enrollment at HBCUs and markedly limit the opportunity for lower-income students at large.
The proposed Budget also fails to strengthen the Pell Grant program, funding upon which most HBCU students rely to fund their education. The combination of expanding the eligibility of Pell Grants to short-term education programs, while simultaneously cutting $3.9 billion from the Pell Surplus, stands to put the long-term viability of the Pell Grant program in jeopardy.
In addition, TMCF proudly counts three Predominantly Black Institutions (PBIs) among its membership and, as such, believe that a consolidation of the MSI Grant program, as proposed in the Budget, is not in the best interest of our member-schools. We encourage Congress to maintain the existing funding mechanisms which have provided strong support to our nation’s PBIs, and refrain from consolidating PBIs into the proposed “Consolidated MSI Grant” program.
TMCF greatly appreciates Congress’ efforts, since 2017, to increase funding for key HBCU programs, such as Title III Part-B Strengthening HBCU and HBGI programs, the Department of Defense’s HBCU Minority Serving Institutions Program and, most recently, the FUTURE Act, signed into law by President Trump, which made Title III Part-F mandatory funding permanent.
TMCF will continue to work constructively with the White House and the Congress to ensure that we strengthen those programs vital to HBCUs and PBIs, and continue to build upon the momentum that these schools have built over the past three budget cycles.