Pointing to the job that their campuses do in educating a disproportionate number of African-American students, the leaders of historically Black colleges and universities are calling on President Obama to increase funding to their campuses at a time of serious economic strife.
The president’s new budget shows that an $85 million infusion of federal dollars, which historically Black institutions have relied on since 2007, is no longer available. The White House notes, however, that HBCUs would benefit in the long run from other direct government funding, which would mean a hike of about $12 million – raising the amount of federal dollars to $250 million. But, as Black-college leaders point out, the cessation of the specific HBCU fund would mean a $73 million reduction.
Obama contends that under his education plan, Black colleges would be able to better serve Black students because of a $200 increase in the maximum Pell Grant – taking the total allowance to $5,550 – to poor students, which are disproportionately minority.
"The administration is definitely committed to strengthening HBCUs and other colleges and universities that serve minority populations," said Carmel Martin, assistant secretary of education. "And one of the best ways we can do that is by supporting our students."
While the 105 federally recognized HBCUs make up just 3 percent of America’s colleges, they confer almost 20 percent of the bachelor’s degrees awarded to African Americans, according to the United Negro College Fund. However, an analysis by The Associated Press earlier this year revealed that Black students at four-year HBCUs have lower graduation rates than Black students at other schools.