WASHINGTON, DC (February 13, 2018) – The Thurgood Marshall College Fund is appreciative of the Trump Administration making our nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) a point of emphasis by preserving level funding in the President’s FY 2019 budget. By preserving level funding, our HBCU’s have fared much better than other higher education stakeholders and federal agencies, relative to the proposed 10.5% cut to the Department of Education’s overall budget.
Despite these positive developments, TMCF is concerned about those proposed cuts which could have a detrimental impact on our students’ ability to persist and graduate from HBCUs. The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant program remains a critical component of financial support for HBCU students, over 90% of whom receive some form, if not multiple forms, of federal financial assistance to attend college. Similarly, we are concerned about the significant reductions in the Federal Work-Study program as this program remains another area of critical financial support for HBCU students.
TMCF hopes that serious consideration will be given to restoring these important programs in the final version of the FY 2019 budget and we will actively work with the Members of the 115th Congress, the Bipartisan Congressional HBCU Caucus, and the Congressional Black Caucus to find ways to restore funding to the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants Program and the Federal Work-Study Program.
As some HBCUs currently operate charter and private K-12 schools, we are hopeful that some portion of the $1.1 billion of newly allocated funding outlined by the President for school choice initiatives could be used to build and strengthen our K-12 pipeline, particularly with respect to our STEM-based initiatives.
Finally, we extend our appreciation to the Trump Administration and congressional leaders, particularly those in the Louisiana and Mississippi delegations, for their decision to include debt forgiveness in the recent budget agreement to four HBCU campuses which experienced significant damage from Hurricane Katrina, including TMCF member-school Southern University at New Orleans. The decision to relieve these institutions of this significant debt obligation will allow them to focus their efforts exclusively on their missions of educating students and serving their respective communities.
TMCF will continue to work with the White House Initiatives on HBCUs, the Department of Education, the Congressional Black Caucus and the Bipartisan and Bicameral Congressional HBCU Caucus to ensure HBCUs remain a priority across the board and in every budget.