White House Responds to BET.com’s HBCU Funding Cuts Story

White House Responds to BET.com’s HBCU Funding Cuts Story

Published May 12, 2009

The White House says even though the President’s new budget does not allot the $85 million it did in the past for Historically Black Colleges and Universities, it has increased key initiatives that serve those schools in a budget where the vast majority of Education Department programs have received little or no funding.

Yesterday, BET.com reported that the cuts in the next budget could amount to as much as a $73 million shortfall.

In an e-mail to BET.com, White House officials said, “discretionary funding programs for HBCUS, both undergrad and graduate, received 5 percent more than twice the rate of inflation. The budget doubled subsidy in the HBCU capital financing program and will more than double the total loan volume.”

But even as the Obama administration explains how the dispersed funding ends up benefiting the schools and students more, some leaders at America’s HBCUs say they can’t afford the cuts to direct funding, especially in an economic downturn. Their schools, they stress, make up just 3 percent of America’s colleges but confer almost 20 percent of the bachelor’s degrees awarded to African Americans.

Edith Bartley, Director of government affairs at the United Negro College Fund, told EURweb that leaders at most HBCUs and their advocates are disappointed but not surprised by the White House move.

In addition to the new streams of funding, the White House says, the new budget provides $7.9 million in programs that will strengthen Predominantly Black Institutions, expands the maximum Pell Grant award to $5,550 for the next school year, and ensures that future financial aid is reliable and constant.

“The President’s proposal overhauls the inefficient and inequitable Perkins Loan programs,” the e-mail read. Finally, the budget provides $2.5 billion for a new five-year Access and Completion Incentive Fund to support innovative state efforts to help low-income students complete their college education.”

Written by BET.com Staff

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