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Senate Passes HBCU Funding Bill

Senate Passes FUTURE Act for HBCUs

After letting federal funding expire for HBCUs and other minority serving institutions (MSIs) at the beginning of October, President Trump has just signed the bill to restore funding to these institutions.

Dubbed the FUTURE Act (Fostering Undergraduate Talent by Unlocking Resources for Education), the bill ensures that HBCUs and minority serving institutions receive $255 million every year.

Per, an announcement on the website of Senate Education Chairman, Lamar Alexander, the bill will also save the average tax payers almost $3 billion over the next decade. 

The bill won’t just provide funding, but will also remove some of the red tape around several other processes vital to getting a higher education. For example, the bill is simplifying the Free FAFSA application by removing 22 questions, and also eliminating the need for some applicants to complete the verification process. Verification typically impacted about a third of the applications for financial aid and required applicants to verify their IRS documents with the Department of Education.

“This bipartisan provision stops families from having to give their same tax information to the federal government twice — first to the IRS, then again to the U.S. Department of Education,” Senator Lamar Alexander said. “It should eliminate most of the so-called ‘verification’ process, which is a bureaucratic nightmare that 5.5 million students go through annually.” The issue of supplying this kind of tax information repeatedly became more significant when, in 2017, the IRS admitted to compromising the data of over 100,000 people.

Moreover, the relationship between the IRS and the black community has been strained by a history of unfair auditing practices that have, some say, contributed to the struggle black students continue to have acquiring fair loans and paying them off. The bill also eliminates the need to do paperwork every year in order to stay on an income driven repayment plans. 

Soon after signing, President Trump addressed his ongoing support for HBCUs, noting that his administration “continues to deliver.” He went on to praise the White House and Congress for coming to a “historic agreement.”

The passing of the funding bill was celebrated by major HBCU supporters including the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF). Both groups urged Congress to pass H.R.2486 which was sponsored by Congresswoman Alma Adams of North Carolina, which is currently home to 12 institutions designated as Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Adams herself is a graduate of North Carolina A & T and former professor at Bennett College, both HBCUs.

*Article by Raz Robinson, journalist and freelance writer, based in New York City. Connect with him on LinkedIn, follow him on Twitter @razrobinson or send an email to Rrob0904 (at) gmail (dot) com.

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