U.S. Senator Doug Jones has introduced the Strengthening Minority-Serving Institutions Act which will increase mandatory funding levels from $255 million to $300 million for HBCUs and other minority-serving institutions of higher education.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently investigated the capital finance needs of HBCUs. Its report found that 46 percent of all HBCU buildings are in need of repair or replacement due to deferred maintenance. Compounding this challenge are the difficulties HBCUs face when attracting revenue from diverse sources and the smaller endowments they maintain, which can impact their credit rating.
The GAO also found that HBCUs have endowments that are approximately half of those of similar non-HBCUs. None of the top 90 institutions with endowments over $1 billion are HBCUs. There are over 100 accredited HBCUs in the country. They enroll approximately 300,000 students, 80 percent of whom are African-American and 70 percent are from low-income families. While HBCUs only make up 3 percent of the country’s colleges and universities today, they produce nearly 20 percent of all African-American graduates. Should the measure pass, HBCUs would receive an increase of nearly $15 million in capacity-building funding and Hispanic-Serving Institutions would receive an increase in $17.5 million in capacity-building funding, with priority for STEM and Articulation programs.
“These institutions are part of the fabric of our communities and the foundation of our higher education system. True to their resilience in the face of struggle, they have continued to achieve remarkable accomplishments despite many facing serious financial challenges,” Jones said. “The Strengthening Minority-Serving Institutions Act will help ensure these historic schools will be able to continue to provide exceptional educational opportunities to their students while improving their facilities and expanding opportunities for both students and educators.”