March 30, 2010 – President Barack Obama signed the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, increasing funding for Historical Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). The bill increased direct funding by close to 25 percent and will make it easier for African Americans to seek support in pursuit of higher education.
John White, Executive Director of the White House Initiative on HBCUs told reporters on a conference call Tuesday, the president has demonstrated a “solid commitment to supporting these institution” with direct financial support over the next 10 years.
White said the goal is to, “renew, reform and expand programs” at the 105 accredited HBCUs. The boost in funding will be welcomed by all colleges and universities who will see an increase in addition to Title III funding they now receive.
The $850 million will be allocated to schools based on their academic strategic plan and the size of their enrollment. The funding will not be restricted so colleges and universities can use funds to increase faculty, expand into new program areas and build infrastructure, like computer labs to support their overall goal.
While there has been a great deal of attention on health care reform, this legislation will be helpful for African-Americans students who qualify. Here’s a quick summery of what’s in this legislation;
• More than $40 billion in Pell Grants; combined with funding from the Recovery Act it will double the total amount of dollars available in the Obama administration.
• Students’ loan payments will be reduced to 10 percent of their available discretionary income for repayment by 2014 with forgiveness in 10 years in exchange for public service. The current payment rate is 16 percent with forgiveness in 25 years.
• Includes $2 billion over four years for community colleges to develop, improve and provide education and career training programs.
• Starting July 1, all new federal student loans will be direct loans and delivered and collected by private companies under performance-based contracts with the Department of Education.
Melody Barns, Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council said the new college loan program will create a savings of $68 billion with the elimination of the government subsidies currently given to banks and other financial institutions that make guaranteed federal student loans.
But increased funding isn’t the only part of the Obama administration’s outreach to HBCUs. White announced the president, first lady and other top White House officials will have a huge presence during commencement season at HBCUs.