- Black, Hispanic, & Tribal Colleges Join Forces for Unprecedented Collaboration on Higher Education Act (HEA) Reauthorization
- Proposals include New Grant Aid, Student Loan Forgiveness, and Direct Support to Minority Institutions for Institutional Development and Graduate Fellowships
- Report says Minority-Serving Institutions Need To Be Heard as “Leading Voice” for Underrepresented Populations
Washington, D.C., Feb. 13, 2003—National organizations representing more than 1.8 million college students enrolled in Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) today announced a far-reaching set of proposals to dramatically improve the Federal government’s long-standing commitment to making a college education a reality for all Americans. The proposals, aimed at giving “emerging majority” populations a leading voice in the upcoming reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, include major new support for grant aid to financially needy students, loan forgiveness for students who work in areas of high national need such as science and teaching, more direct aid to MSIs for institutional development and graduate fellowships, and other important programs.
The recommendations call for a bold new investment in programs and policies that increase low-income and minority student access and success in college. The recommendations are being advanced as Congress begins considering proposals to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, the principal Federal legislation concerned with higher education. HEA programs, including Pell Grants, Stafford Student Loans, Federal TRIO programs, support for developing institutions under Titles III and V, and other critical programs account for more than $40 billion in need-based student aid, plus several billion dollars more in support provided to colleges and other organizations to help people go to college.
“In these times of increasing concern about homeland security, global competitiveness, and national economic growth, we believe that investing in the programs and policies of the Higher Education Act is the best way to achieve the goals of prosperity, security, and harmony for all Americans,” says the report from the Alliance for Equity in Higher Education.
Major recommendations include:
- Doubling the amount of the authorized maximum Pell Grant within the six-year timeframe of the HEA reauthorization, and making the Pell Grant an entitlement.
- Creating a new, entitlement-based loan forgiveness program under the Stafford Student Loan Program to meet national needs where there is an underrepresentation of minorities, such as science, math, IT, minority health, and teaching.
- In association with new loan forgiveness policies, increasing annual borrowing limits under the Stafford Loan Program.
- Restoring Federal financial aid eligibility for disenfranchised populations, such as prisoners and individuals with drug-related convictions.
- Providing opportunities for increased MSI participation in Federal TRIO programs by offering MSI applicants the same preference points given to current grant recipients.
- Significantly expanding both the scope and authorization levels of Titles III and V to ensure the continued development and growth of MSIs.
- Developing new graduate-level opportunities to enhance the capacity of MSIs to train future faculty and senior institutional leaders.
The recommendations note that this critical new investment is needed as minority populations are rapidly increasing across the nation, but college degree levels lag far behind. For example, the percentage of Hispanics and African Americans with a bachelor’s degree or higher is dramatically lower than for whites—11 percent for Hispanics and 17 percent for African Americans, compared to 28 percent for whites. MSIs provide quality postsecondary education opportunities for students who traditionally have been denied access to adequately funded K-12 schools, especially low-income, disadvantaged students who are the major focus of the HEA.