Alexander: Congress Should Pass Permanent Solution to Fund Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Other Minority Serving Institutions

Posted on September 19, 2019

“I propose that such a package would include permanent mandatory funding for HBCUs and other Minority Serving Institutions; reduce the number of questions on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid from 108 to 17-30; Allow students to answer up to 22 questions on the current FAFSA with one click by using data the government already has from the IRS; Allow incarcerated individuals who are eligible for parole to use a Pell grant for prison-education programs; Allow students to use their Pell grants at high-quality short-term skills and job training programs that lead to credentialing and employment in high-demand fields like health care or cybersecurity; and expand Pell grant eligibility to 250,000 new students and qualify an additional 1.3 million students for the maximum Pell grant award.”

WASHINGTON, September 19, 2019 — Senate education committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said today on the Senate floor that Congress should pass a permanent solution to fund Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and other Minority Serving Institutions, and that such a package should include additional bipartisan higher education proposals while he continues working with Senator Murray on a larger Higher Education Act reauthorization.

“Ensuring that Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other Minority Serving Institutions continue to receive federal funding is something that we all want to do,” Alexander said. “However, instead of a short-term patch we should pass a long-term solution that will provide certainty to college presidents and their students. I am ready to do this, in conjunction with a few additional bipartisan higher education proposals from 31 Senators—19 Democrats and 12 Republicans.”

Chairman Alexander proposed that such a package would include:

  • Permanent mandatory funding, $255 million each year, for Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other Minority Serving Institutions;
  • Reduce the number of questions on the FAFSA from 108 to 17-30, as proposed by Senators Alexander, Bennett and Jones;
  • A proposal by Senators Alexander, Murray, Collins, Cornyn, Gardner, Hassan, King, Stabenow, Tillis and Whitehouse to allow students to answer up to 22 questions on the current FAFSA with one click by using data the government already has from the IRS. This would also reduce the burdensome verification process. The Senate has already passed this once.
  • A proposal to allow incarcerated individuals who are eligible for parole to use a Pell grant for prison-education programs – this is something a number of senators want to do, including Senators Schatz, Lee and Durbin;
  • A proposal by Senators Portman, Kaine, Cardin, Gillibrand, Hassan, Klobuchar, Stabenow, Baldwin, Brown, Capito, Coons, Ernst, Jones, Moran, Shaheen, Sinema, Smith, Wicker and Braun to allow students to use their Pell grants at high-quality short-term skills and job training programs that lead to credentialing and employment in high-demand fields like health care or cybersecurity;
  • Expand Pell grant eligibility to 250,000 new students and qualify an additional 1.3 million students for the maximum Pell grant award;
  • Increase the maximum Pell grant award.

Alexander continued: “I’ve been talking with Senator Murray about reauthorizing and updating the Higher Education Act for several years. While we continue to work on a larger package, Congress should pass a smaller bill such as the one I just described. I intend to discuss this with Senator Murray and other Committee members next week.”

Alexander concluded: “Congress has the time to do this. While the legislation providing the funding for these Historically Black Colleges and Universities expires at the end of September, according to the U.S. Department of Education, there is enough funding for the program to continue through the next fiscal year. In the meantime, Congress should reach a long-term solution to support these important institutions.”

View Senator Alexander’s prepared remarks here.

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