WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) – Federal aid for America’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities has now expired and Congress can’t agree whether to pass a short or long term plan to restore the funding.
A group of bipartisan senators, educators and students demand a vote now.
These federal dollars pay for campus infrastructure improvements, faculty and curriculum development, and student services. Without them, staff members are looking at layoffs and students are considering transferring.
“It’s because of VUU that I’m a better version of myself,” said Jalynn Hodges, a student at Virginia Union University.
Hodges is a junior biology major at Virginia Union University, one of more than 100 historically black colleges and universities.
“During my first year, I conducted research in our neuroscience and chemistry laboratories where I learned technical and analytical skills.”
Opportunities like this for the hundreds of thousands of students at HBCUs are in jeopardy because Congress has yet to approve federal funding for the next school year.
Hodges, along with a group of senators and educators, called for action now.
Dr. Aminta Breaux is President of Bowie State University joined them.
“Imagine trying to conduct a business, lead a business without knowing what budget you have,” said Dr. Aminta Breaux, Bowie State University President.
The House approved bipartisan legislation last month to extend the funding, but the Senate has yet to agree on a solution.
Alabama Senator Doug Jones has led the push for a temporary two-year solution to prevent HBCUs from moving ahead with layoffs and cuts to student programs.
“Every day that passes without a renewal, these schools are one day closer to having to make very tough decisions that could do permanent damage,” said Jones.
But Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander calls Jones’ legislation a “budget gimmick.” Alexander wants a permanent funding plan for HBCUs now, which he included in a higher education bill package.
“Unfortunately, the bill that he proposes is a short cut the House took that has no way of passing the Senate,” said Alexander.
However, this group of Alexander’s colleagues disagrees.
They say it’s important that their plan make it to the president and sets students’ minds at ease.