Recently there was a picture circulating around the media of President Trump and Presidents of our nations Historically Black Colleges (HBCU). There sole purpose was to shed light on the needs for funding to these schools. HBCU’s have played an important role throughout American history by providing safe spaces for black Americans to learn and continue efforts to prosper. They are also profoundly connected to the ongoing fight for civil rights and social black issues. The HBCU Capital Financing Improvement Act (H.R. 1123) is a bill intended to amend title III of the Higher Education Act of 1965. If passed, it will revise the program by guaranteeing private loans at lower costs in order to fund maintaining the schools and infrastructure.
My goal was to find a bill that supports the purpose and presence of upholding Historically Black Colleges across the nation. I think it’s important that we support programs, activities, etc. that contribute to the success of marginalized communities. Firstly, I want to give you background knowledge about the original bill which was the Higher Education Act of 1965. This was passed to provide college students pursuing education with financial opportunities as well as providing the colleges with more resources to perform educational responsibilities. President Johnson determined there was a need for middle and low income students to have higher educational opportunities. The modifying of this bill, which was just recently introduced February of this year, will replace the phrases that say ‘’escrow account’’ with ‘’bond insurance fund’’, strengthen assistance for schools who meet eligibility requirements, and have the advisory board report annual data to includes loan reports and need based problems facing HBCU’s.
So, what does all of this mean? HBCU’s are in dire need of campus infrastructure development and the HBCU Capital Financing program is supposed to aid them through this loaning program. However, the programs advisory board has only met a few time since its creation in 1992. This is a huge problem as the board provides the Congress and Department of Education with the needs of HBCU’s and how the program can be improved. It is essential that this bill is modified as the number of degrees acquired by black college students from HBCU’s has significantly decreased over time. This bill will guide participating HBCU’s in the resources available to them as well as holding the advisory board accountable to providing data on financial wellness of the program.
In 1976-77 year HBCU’s accounted for 35 percent of bachelor degrees earned by black students. As of the 2013-14 year the percentage dropped to 15 percent. HBCU’s have also had a history of struggles with unequal government funding. I think its extremely important to keep putting pressure on responsible administrative decisions by holding them accountable. Without the necessary funds to continuously develop their schools it is hard to keep attracting students for higher enrollment. If possible, I think this bill should continue to be modified if the Department of Education can find more financial opportunities to contribute to the success of Historically Black Colleges.