Washington Briefs

 

 

Though Poorer, Hispanics Less Likely to Get Financial Aid than Whites

WASHINGTON — Hispanic college students are less likely to get financial aid than Whites — though Hispanics are three times likelier to be poor, according to a new U.S. Census Bureau study.
The study found that 59 percent of 6.8 million White full-time college students received financial aid in the 1993-94 school year. Among 783,000 Hispanic students, 57 percent received aid. Of the 1 million Black students in college during that time, 77 percent received aid.
Income disparities between White and Hispanic families suggest that Hispanics would be likelier to receive aid for college, says Jennifer Day, a Census Bureau demographer and the report’s primary author.
“Financial aid is a lot about knowing the system,” Day says. “Whether they just don’t know the system or don’t have as many scholarships, I don’t know.”
The findings indicate a communication gap between Hispanic students and financial aid sources, says Dr. Antonio Flores, president of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities in San Antonio.
“Many Hispanic families are not even aware of the availability of financial aid,” he says. “They don’t even apply, though they would be eligible.”
Steve Murdock, the data center’s director, says Hispanics may be less likely to receive aid than Whites despite lower incomes because “they’re much less likely to be in a position to ask for it.”
Many Hispanic college students are the first in their families to pursue a degree and know little about paying for college.
“For many of them, just filling out a financial aid form — which seems like no big deal — is extremely threatening,” Flores says.


NAFEO Touts Research Agenda
WASHINGTON — Greater access to federal research dollars and college preparation grants are among the top priorities for Black colleges in 2000, a leading minority higher education official says.
“We want more research funds from all agencies. The country has not done right by these institutions,” says Dr. Henry Ponder, executive director of the National Association of Equal Opportunity in Higher Education, or NAFEO.
Black colleges have the expertise to handle large federal research grants, but too often they are shut out of the most prestigious projects, Ponder complains.
But in 2000, NAFEO will target Congress and individual federal agencies, pressing them to boost research funding for Black colleges while working with the White House to include more funding in its annual budget plan.
With more research money, Black colleges also could develop more cutting-edge facilities such as those available at Johns Hopkins University, the University of Michigan and other institutions that rely heavily on federal research funds, he says.
To prepare youth for higher education, Black colleges need a stronger role in the new Gear Up program, the college access program originally proposed by Rep. Chaka Fattah, D-Pa., a Congressional Black Caucus member.
The program received first-year funding of $140 million in 1999, but few Black colleges received initial grants as either a primary or secondary recipient, Ponder said.
“You couldn’t have written a program more for Black colleges if you tried,” he says. “But when it came to funding, very few of our institutions were involved. We should be lead agencies in these projects.”
Other NAFEO priorities for the 2000 congressional season include:
n Title III and student aid. NAFEO wants increases in core programs for Black colleges and disadvantaged students, including Pell grants and the Title III-B program for HBCUs.
n Teacher education. Congress must reauthorize the nation’s main K-12 education law this year, and Ponder contends Black colleges can have a major role to play in teacher training, a key issue in these deliberations. Among African Americans, education degrees still rank among the most popular.
n Historic preservation. The U.S. General Accounting Office says Black colleges need $750 million to preserve and renovate their historic buildings. Though Congress passed legislation to permit federal spending on such activities, few funds have been set aside.


Report: Funding Doesn’t Match Higher Percentage of Students

WASHINGTON — Public school enrollment has jumped significantly but per-pupil spending and teacher salaries have remained stagnant over the past decade, according to a report released last month by the National Education Association.
The average expenditure nationally per student in grades K-12 declined by 0.5 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars between 1997-98 and 1998-99, according to Rankings & Estimates: Rankings of the States 1999 and Estimates of School Statistics 2000. Even without adjusting for inflation, per-student spending increased by only 1.2 percent from $6,174 in 1997-98 to $6,251 in 1998-99 — well below the 3.9 percent increase the previous year.
“Spending on elementary and secondary education is simply not keeping up with the growing need for a well-educated workforce, especially considering that fully 90 percent of the nation’s school-aged children — more than 46 million students — attend public schools,” says Bob Chase, president of the National Education Association.
The report also reveals that the average salary for public school teachers increased slightly to $40,582 in 1998-99. But most teachers earning that average salary have a master’s degree and 16 years of experience, education association officials say.
Teachers’ salaries, considering inflation, increased by 1.9 percent in the last decade. By contrast, the U.S. Department of Labor reports that salaries for accountants increased by 5.6 percent to 7.4 percent for computer analysts during that same period.
In fact, the 1.1 percent increase between 1997-98 and 1998-99 for teachers represents the first real growth since 1991, the report states. And, two-thirds of the states do not meet the national average for teachers’ salaries (see chart).
The report also found:
n The percentage of men teaching in the nation’s public schools continues to decline, dipping from 26.5 percent in 1997-98 to 26.4 percent in 1998-99. Additionally, Chase notes that “the states with the highest salaries tend to have the highest proportion of male teachers.”
n Between 1996 and 1997, the economy grew 40 percent faster than did funding for K-12 education. And, the ratio of personal income per student increased by 5.6 percent, while the ratio of money spent per student only increased by 4 percent.
n States’ share of public education funding has increased — from 49.1 percent in 1997-98 to 49.8 percent in 1998-99 — while the local share has decreased, from 44 percent to 43.3 percent. The federal share has remained unchanged at 6.9 percent.                 



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