Washington Briefs

Washington Briefs

HBCU Wins Commerce Funds

WASHINGTON — The Clinton administration’s new initiative to improve communities in the Mississippi Delta region continues to provide benefits for colleges in that area.
Mississippi Valley State University has received a $90,000 university center grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce. Goals for the program are to help improve the Delta economy, through initiatives such as technical assistance and outreach to small business owners, says Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss. The grant also will support job-training efforts to meet local employer demands.
The administration’s Delta initiative seeks to focus more federal funding to improve the region’s economy, much as the nation has programs to provide support to communities of Appalachia.


Black, Hispanic Caucuses Launch
Dual-Degree Effort

WASHINGTON — Black and His-panic lawmakers have come together to sponsor new legislation that could create a long-debated “dual degree” program for minority-serving colleges.
The just-introduced bill would provide $40 million in start-up funding next year for the initiative, in which Black colleges, Hispanic-serving institutions and tribal colleges team with other colleges and universities to offer a wider array of degrees — particularly in areas where people of color are under-represented in the work force.
Under the plan, for example, students at an HBCU might enroll in a five-year education program leading to two degrees — one from the Black college and another from the partner college or university. The second degree could be a master’s or another bachelor’s, the legislation states.
Some students likely would move to the partner institution for their fourth year of study, and the plan would reimburse minority-serving institutions for the tuition they would have received from the student had he or she remained at the HBCU or HSI that year. The program also would provide scholarships to students in the fourth or fifth year of their educational programs.
Most four-year colleges and universities could serve as partner institutions, and the key ingredient for a partner is to offer a bachelor’s or advanced degree not available at the minority-serving institution participating in the program. However, sponsors noted that other HBCUs with advanced degrees also could serve as partners under the plan.
Rep. William Clay, D-Mo., senior Democrat on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, introduced the bill along with co-sponsors such as Reps. James Clyburn, D-S.C.; Ruben Hinojosa, D-Texas; Major Owens, D-N.Y.; and Carrie Meek, D-Fla. President Clinton proposed a similar idea in his most recent federal budget proposal, but that plan has yet to receive approval on Capitol Hill.
Clay’s plan would authorize dual-degree grants for three years. After $40 million in first-year funds, the program would not have a set allotment level during years two and three.

Bush Outlines Plan
For Pell — With Math, Science String  Attached

WASHINGTON — Texas Gov. George W. Bush wants to offer college students more Pell grant money if they pursue math or science studies.
The Republican’s new plan would provide $1 billion more for Pell grants — if students take college-level math or science courses while still in high school. Students also could obtain the extra aid if they do well on Advanced Placement exams in math or science.
Those who qualify based on their high school coursework could get an extra $1,000 through Pell. The current maximum grant is $3,300, though that
figure is likely to increase slightly
next year.   



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