President Trump Prioritizes HBCUs

Any budget that does not include funding for early childhood education for all students beginning at age 3, to close the 70,000-word differential between low-income students and middle-income students by the time the students enter kindergarten, is an anti-HBCU budget. Any budget that does not fund CHIP for all eligible children, that reduces funding for early STEM initiatives targeted toward putting more low-income students, students of color, and girls on the pathway into a STEM profession, is an anti-HBCU budget. Any budget that does not provide proportionately more need-based student financial aid for low-income students and families, does not include incentives for federal work study awards to support low-income students working in positions that will prepare them to realize their work-life aspirations, and any budget that does not allow students who must take out college loans to pay them off by providing public service in schools, hospitals, public health clinics, not-for-profit associations, and other places of service in communities of highest distress and least advantage, is an anti-HBCU budget.

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Any budget that does not include a Pell Grant that covers the average cost of a four-year public college or university, and permanent year-round Pell Grant funding, is an anti-HBCU budget. More than 70 percent of HBCU students rely on Pell Grants to earn a college certificate or degree that will put them on the path to the middle class. Any legislation that proposes to cap TRIO funding for six years at $900M beginning in FY 2019 – $50 million below the FY 2018 levels and $110 million less than the FY 2019 TRIO budget approved by the House, is an anti-HBCU budget. Any legislation that would create additional obstacles for HBCUs seeking to access the HBCU Capital Financing Program, when the data are indisputable that HBCUs pay 20 percent more than other colleges and universities to finance facilities in the tax-exempt bond market, even when HBCUs and non-HBCUs have similar credit quality, is an anti-HBCU initiative.

Any budget that does not invest in the programs proven to move students and families of least advantage from the margins into the mainstream, into and through college to career; does not invest in initiatives proven to close the achievement and attainment gaps; incentivize four-year institutions to expand access to higher education for low-income students and increase graduation rates for all students; fails to incentivize preparing diverse, excellent teaching professionals, and ensure the rights and safety of every child, administrator, faculty, staff and visitor to a college campus, is an anti-HBCU budget.

The students and families who disproportionately benefit from the above-referenced programs, are 70% of those matriculating in HBCUs, and who graduate from HBCUs, many prepared for jobs and entrepreneurship in growth and high need disciplines, who, with other HBCU alumni, go on to transform the lives of their families, those in their communities, the nation and the world. To cut funding for the referenced initiatives, under-fund, or limit the above referenced initiatives would be to vastly diminish the ability of HBCUs to provide the academic, financial, civic, cultural, spiritual and wellbeing supports necessary to ensure the success of their students and those in their service communities; to dim the light on the pathway of HBCU students and families to a better day; and threaten to turn out the lights of more than a few HBCUs.

Lezli Baskerville
President & CEO
National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO)