Thanks to a provision in President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, historically Black colleges and universities, predominantly Black institutions and other minority-serving institutions will receive a record $3 billion in relief funding.
On Wednesday, Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., touted the windfall during a visit to Savannah State University.
“HBCUs in Georgia are going to receive more than $75 million in direct financial support,” Ossoff said in a speech hosted by the university’s president, Kimberly Ballard-Washington, “and Madam President, we have confirmed Tuesday that Savannah State University will receive $17.5 million in federal funding.”
In total, the funds — part of the $40 billion set aside in the relief plan for higher education — stand to benefit historically underserved students of color, allowing them to receive financial aid and ensuring HBCUs can stay afloat during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Across the country, higher education students are struggling to afford basic necessities and to scrape together the money they need for tuition, and institutions are grappling with rising costs to implement critical public health measures and budget shortfalls. But these challenges are even more severe for historically under-resourced institutions like HBCUs,” said Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. “We must keep working to ensure higher education is a tool to address inequality, not reinforce it — and that’s exactly what the American Rescue Plan will help achieve.”
In an interview with Yahoo News, Lodriguez Murray, senior vice president for public policy and governmental affairs for the United Negro College Fund, emphasized the importance of the funding.
“The investment the federal government has made in us is necessary for right now, but they’re also a backfill for a lack of investment for so many years,” Murray said. “The investments that are made during this pandemic are good because they’re helping those institutions make it through one of the most uncertain times in American history, but they’re also necessary to showcase how effective those institutions have been for decades and during those decades have gotten very little investment. Yet they persisted with excellence, and with even more investment happening now, even more excellence on the horizon.”
Murray said that efforts to support HBCUs, culminating with the multibillion-dollar allocation during the pandemic, has been bipartisan. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., and Rep. Alma Adams, D-N.C., co-sponsored the IGNITE HBCU Excellence Act. The bill would direct money to renovate and modernize buildings at more than 100 of the nation’s HBCUs.
“HBCUs have always been agents of excellence in education for students of color,” they wrote. They’re a smart enough investment to bring the two of us, a Republican senator and a Democratic congresswoman, together as lead sponsors.”
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