Kamala Harris, Doug Jones secure robust funding increase for HBCUs

U.S. Senators Doug Jones (D-Ala.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) recently announced that Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) will receive a 14-percent increase in federal funding in the Senate’s omnibus spending bill, from $244.7 million in FY17 to $279.6 million in FY18.

The funding increase follows a request made by Jones and Harris last month in a letter to the leadership of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies. Their letter was supported by 12 of their Senate colleagues and is copied below.

“Despite enrolling roughly 300,000 students each year nationwide, HBCUs have faced significant funding challenges, with some even forced to close their doors,” Jones said. “These schools provide a path for so many first-generation college students, many of whom come from under-served backgrounds.”

“HBCUs are critical to the foundation of our higher education system, and provide opportunities for some of the nation’s most promising and deserving students,” said Harris. “I am pleased funds in this bipartisan budget agreement will be invested in the future of these young people. Ensuring HBCUs have the federal support and resources they need to thrive for generations to come is one of my top priorities as a proud HBCU graduate.”

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 $72.3 million. Predominantly Black Institutions will receive a boost from $9.9 million to $11.4 million.

U.S. President Donald Trump signed the increases into law on March 23, 2018 as part of his approval of the $1.3 trillion federal budget. The Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) and United Negro College Fund (UNCF) both praised the news.

“On behalf of our 47 member-schools, the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) extends our gratitude to the United States Congress for supporting our nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in the FY’18 Omnibus Appropriations Act in such a significant way,” said Harry L. Williams, TMCF president and CEO. “We appreciate Congress increasing vital Title III funding which will allow our member-schools to continue building capacity and further demonstrate devoting federal resources to HBCUs remains a sound investment for the entire country.”

“When asked if the 115th Congress and President Trump kept their promises by making investments in HBCUs, we could not answer that question until today,” said Lodriguez Murray, UNCF Vice President for Public Policy and Government Affairs. “Yes, this bill represents a meaningful and measurable investment in HBCUs and the students our institutions serve. The FY 2018 omnibus bill increases investments in student support like Pell Grants, Federal Work Study, and Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG); increases in institutional support like the Title III Strengthening HBCUs program, Strengthening Historically Black Graduate Institutions (HBGI) program, and Predominantly Black College programs; pipeline programs to prepare our future higher education students like Federal TRIO, and GEAR UP, and programs to increase diversity in the medical, dental, engineering, and STEM fields.”