Students of Color Win in Final Education Budget
WASHINGTON — Postsecondary institutions serving students of color earned some hard-fought budget victories as Congress concluded its business for the year.
Black colleges, Hispanic-serving institutions and tribal colleges all won funding increases in the final education budget bill for fiscal year 2000. HBCUs got a last-minute bonus when the Senate and House of Representatives agreed to a larger increase that met Clinton administration budget requests.
The final bill, signed into law Nov. 29, provides $148.7 million for HBCUs, a TK increase from 1999 spending. Earlier, the House had recommended $136 million and the Senate $141 million.
Lawmakers also added an extra $1 million for HBCU graduate institutions, bringing the total appropriation to $31 million in fiscal 2000.
Hispanic-serving institutions will receive $42.5 million, an increase of $14.5 million, or 50 percent, from current funding. Colleges qualify as HSIs if their enrollment is 25 percent Hispanic and 50 percent of those students are from low-income families.
Elsewhere, a $6 million set aside for tribal colleges will double federal funding for a small program enacted in the 1998 Higher Education Act Amendments.
College access programs also will get new funds under the bill, including the new GEAR UP initiative proposed by Rep. Chaka Fattah, D-Pa., and others. Earlier this year, the House had voted to terminate this new program, which awarded its first grants in August. GEAR UP programs work with students as early as middle school to help put them on a course for college.
The final spending bill contains $200 million for GEAR UP, an increase of $80 million from first-year funding. The White House made GEAR UP a priority during budget negotiations and originally wanted to double the program’s first-year budget.
Another winner is the federal TRIO program, which will get $635 million in 2000. This amount is up $35 million from current funds for early intervention and retention programs.
Other funding provisions include:
* maximum Pell Grant of $3,300 for the neediest students next year, an increase of $175 from current funding;
* $64 million increase for college work/study, for total funding of $934 million next year;
* $12 million increase for Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, for $631million in 2000; and
* $15 million increase for Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnerships, formerly the State Student Incentive Grant program, for program funding of $40 million.
The final budget pact reflected most of the Clinton administration’s key priorities, but Republicans did win a small victory that could complicate budget matters. The final budget agreement contains a .38 percent across-the-board cut in federal funding, which would affect the U.S. Education Department. The provision will cut into some ED budget increases, though the department still will get 6 percent more funding in 2000 compared to 1999.
Earlier, the White House had held fast against a 1 percent across-the-board cut. Officials said they could live with the smaller reduction, particularly since the agreement gives federal agencies, including ED, flexibility in how to carry out the cutback.
Howard University would receive $219.4 million from the bill, an increase of $5 million from current funding and the same amount as the president’s request. Other minority-serving institutions also won some special earmarks in the year-end spending bill. Alabama A&M University will receive $1 million to develop a research institute, and the institution also will get $350,000 for an Alabama State Black Archives and Research Center. Spelman College received $800,000 for education operations, the bill states.
In K-12 education, the bill includes small gains for the Title I program plus more funding for the president’s initiative to reduce class sizes in elementary schools. However, to meet GOP priorities, schools would get more flexibility in how they spend their class-size funds.
The bill also would provide the Head Start program with a $607 million increase, the largest yet recorded by the child development program. As a result, Head Start would receive $5.2 billion in 2000.
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