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Senate Passes HBCU Funding Agreement

Thursday, December 5, 2019
Ashley Harrington

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the U.S. Senate passed a bipartisan agreement to permanently reauthorize $255 million for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs), and other Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs). The agreement amends the FUTURE Act, a bill that passed the House in September. The proposal also includes the FAFSA Act, a measure that makes it simpler for the Department of Education and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to share student tax data. This would help streamline the financial aid application process for students and make it easier for borrowers to access income-based repayment programs.

The agreement was put together by U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Doug Jones (D-Ala), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), and Chris Coons (D-Del.).

HBCU and MSI funding expired earlier this year when U.S. Senate Committee on Health Education and Labor Chairman Lamar Alexander stopped Senate consideration of the FUTURE Act after it passed the House on a voice vote.

Ashley Harrington, a senior policy counsel at the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL), released the following statement:

We commend the Senators for working to pass this agreement to restore funding for these important higher education institutions that serve two million students of color and help millions more by making the financial aid and student loan repayment process less burdensome.

HBCUs and other MSIs are essential to achieving equity and access in our higher education system as well as to curbing the student debt crisis. It’s also a win for student borrowers that this agreement includes legislation to streamline student tax data sharing between the Department of Education and the Internal Revenue Service, which would improve our financial aid system by drastically reducing the number of questions on the FAFSA, minimizing additional paperwork or submissions for students and families, insuring accurate calculation and dispersal of Pell Grants and student loans, and reducing the annual certification burden for students in income-based repayment plans.

We urge the House to approve these new provisions and encourage our lawmakers in both chambers to then put forward and pass a comprehensive Higher Education Act reauthorization bill that addresses access, affordability, and accountability in our higher education system.

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Press Contact: ricardo.quinto@responsiblelending.org