Bush Budget Projects Small HBCU Increase
New funding still falls short of amount proposed by Black college leaders
President Bush soon will propose more funding for historically Black colleges and universities for 2003, but the increase will remain below the recommendations of HBCU advocates.
The president’s fiscal 2003 education budget will include an extra $10 million for HBCUs and HBCU graduate institutions. Offering the proposal on the long weekend commemorating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, both Bush and Education Secretary Dr. Roderick Paige cited the proposal among several new initiatives to honor King’s legacy.
“To honor the legacy of Dr. King, we must continue to support the institutions that offer our minority and disadvantaged students opportunities through higher education,” said Paige, who is a former dean of a Black college.
The budget plan has a 3.6 percent increase for HBCUs, including an additional $7.4 million for undergraduate education and $1.8 million for HBCU graduate institutions. If enacted into law, the plan would provide $214 million for the main HBCU program and $50 million for graduate programs.
According to the White House, such funding levels would ensure that HBCUs would receive an average award of $2 million for undergraduate programs. There are fewer HBCU graduate institutions eligible for funds, but the increase would ensure average per-school funding of nearly $3 million.
Bush made the formal announcement as he also proposed $1 billion increases for two core federal programs: Title I education of disadvantaged children and state grants to strengthen special education services.
Together, these three educational initiatives reflect King’s goals. “We must have high expectations for children who are more difficult to teach or who have fallen behind,” Bush said.
At least for HBCUs, however, the projected budget — scheduled for release early this month — still falls short of recommendations made by Black college leaders last year.
During a series of congressional field hearings in 2001, HBCU leaders sought $295 million for their member institutions, including $235 million for undergraduate services and $60 million for graduate programs. Congress provided less than half of this proposed increase for 2002, and the Bush plan still would leave Black colleges short of this goal.
At the time, one witness, Langston University president Dr. Ernest Holloway, called the increases necessary so that “a large number of institutions would get substantially higher grants.” Larger grants may ensure more funding for faculty development, student retention, facilities and endowment efforts, he said.
However, much has changed since last spring to alter the federal budget landscape. The war on terrorism, last year’s $1 trillion tax cut and the current recession are putting unexpectedly harsh constraints on the budget.
Despite earlier projections of a major surplus for 2002, the Bush administration is now projecting a $106 billion deficit this fiscal year and no surpluses until at least 2005.
In his address honoring King, Bush also pledged a small increase for Hispanic-serving institutions (HSIs) in his next budget. Similar to the HBCU increase, HSIs would receive an extra 3.6 percent, or $3.1 million, next year.
With that increase, federal funding would reach about $90 million for HSIs, or colleges and universities where Hispanics represent at least 25 percent of all students.
Bush is expected to propose these increases in his fiscal 2003 Education Department budget request, which is expected to be released during the first week of February. Congress then has nine months to reach agreement on funding before the next fiscal year starts, on Oct. 1.
© Copyright 2005 by DiverseEducation.com