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HBCU leaders urge expansion of Title III and TRIO programs – Historically Black colleges and universities – Washington Update

Expansion of Title III aid to minority institutions and TRIO
programs for disadvantaged youth emerged as top priorities at a
December 17 public hearing on Higher Education Act (MEA)
reauthorization in Washington, D.C.

Leaders of historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs)
sought continued support for Title III plus programmatic changes to
increase the program’s flexibility. For example, Congress could help
HBCUs immensely by allowing them to spend up to 20 percent of Title III
funding to build their endowments, said Dr. Earl Richardson, president
of Morgan. State University.

Richardson, representing the National Association for Equal
Opportunity in Education (NAFEO), also urged the Education Department
(ED) to “reconsider” the current policy that requires Black graduate
schools to match any Title III grant of more than $500,000.

The federal government currently provides $108.9 million in aid to HBCUs plus $19.6 million for HBCU graduate institutions.

TRIO drew support from a variety of higher-education groups which
praised the program’s efforts to recruit low-income, first-generation
students to college.

Despite its successful track record, TRIO currently serves only 5
percent of eligible students, said James Perley, president of the
American Association of University Professors. He also called on the
federal government to use TRIO as an incentive to more federal grant
aid. The government could provide a slightly larger Pell Grant to those
who successfully complete a TRIO program, thereby cutting their future
loan burden.

During the presidential campaign, President Clinton called for
allowing families to deduct college tuition costs of up to $10,000 a
year from their income taxes. He also called for $1,500 in aid to help
students pay for the first two years of college if they maintain a B

Those testifying at the hearing took a cautious view of Clinton’s
plan to expand tax breaks for college, saying direct service and grant
programs are a higher priority.

J. Guadalupe Valtierra, president of the National Council of
Educational Opportunity Associations and director of student services
at Ivy Tech State College in Gary, Indiana, suggests that instead of
focusing first on the Clinton proposals, Congress and ED should focus
on expansion of TRIO and Pell Grants, which then could be “complemented
by tax breaks.”

“Tax breaks are disproportionately weighted toward middle-in-come individuals,” said Valtierra.

A top administration official agreed that tax breaks serve only a
limited population. “Tax breaks don’t help poor folks very much,” said
David Longanecker, assistant ED secretary for post-secondary education,
who presided over the hearing.

Hispanic-serving institutions, which currently receive only $10.8
million a year through Title III, also used the public hearing to call
for more federal aid.

The current allotment for these institutions “falls far short of
the $45 million authorized,” said Antonio Flores, president of the
Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities.

There was also a call for continued support for existing student
financial-aid programs, including Pell Grants and campus-based aid. The
administration must focus on needy students, not just those whose
grades merit aid, several officials said.

The Washington hearing was the last in a series of seven nationwide
meetings in which ED sought public input. The department will continue
to accept public comments through late January and will issue a
reauthorization plan by late winter or early spring. Congress also will
begin its own HEA hearings early in 1997.

Clinton Completes Cabinet; Riley Stays

President Clinton completed his second-term cabinet just before
Christmas with a series of appointments for domestic-policy posts.

As expected, Education Secretary Richard Riley will return for the
start of the president’s second term. Riley’s team will design the
administration’s approach to reauthorization of the Higher Education
Act (HEA).

Many other cabinet-level agencies changed hands, however. At the
Labor Department, Alexis M. Herman was tapped to replace outgoing
secretary Robert Reich. Herman, an African American, has worked with
the Labor Department at various times since the 1970s.

Other new cabinet nominees include Rodney E. Slater for secretary
of Transportation, Andrew Cuomo for secretary of Housing and Urban
Development, and Federico Pena for secretary of Energy.

Slater, an African American, has been an aide to Clinton since the
president’s terms as governor of Arkansas. Cuomo is the son of former
New York Gov. Mario Cuomo (D). Pena served as secretary of
transportation throughout Clinton’s first term.

The nominations of Herman, Slater, Cuomo and Pena now go to the Senate, which must confirm the president’s choices.

COPYRIGHT 1997 Cox, Matthews & Associates

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