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Bill Supports Graduate Education at Hispanic-Serving Institutions

Bill Supports Graduate Education at Hispanic-Serving Institutions
By Charles Dervarics

New legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives would provide funding for Hispanic-serving colleges and universities with graduate programs.

HSI leaders have long identified a priority to obtain federal funding for graduate education. Colleges could use funds for the following: purchases of laboratory equipment; construction, renovation or improvement of a class or library; purchases of books; outreach to students; and improvements to Internet facilities.

The bill from Rep. Ruben Hinojosa, D-Texas, would authorize $125 million a year to support graduate education at HSIs. The federal government already provides $53 million under a program of assistance to historically Black graduate institutions.

H.R. 2238 would provide five-year grants to HSIs with graduate programs, beginning in 2005. “For the first time, Congress is being asked to formally provide a vital investment in building graduate education at those colleges and universities serving the largest concentrations of Hispanic higher education students,” says Dr. Antonio Flores, president and CEO of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities.

Hispanics make up more than 12 percent of the U.S. population but only 4 percent of master’s degrees, 3 percent of doctoral degrees and 5 percent of first professional degrees, he said.

Another provision of the bill would increase authorization for the current HSI undergraduate assistance program to $175 million. Actual funding for this program is $93 million this year. Among other provisions, the new bill would allow these funds to be used for articulation support programs to ease the transfer of two-year college students to four-year institutions.

Hinojosa, chair of the education task force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, has called his plan the Next Generation Hispanic-Serving Institutions bill. So far, it has attracted 74 co-sponsors.

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