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UNCF Pres. Lomax Commends Congress for Renewing Higher Education Act of 1965 (717 hits)

August 4, 2008

Dr. Michael L. Lomax, president and CEO of the United Negro College Fund, praised members of Congress last Friday for its reauthorization of the Higher Education Act of 1965.

"The UNCF commends Congress for the tenacious and bipartisan leadership exhibited in securing passage of H.R. 4137, the Higher Education Opportunity Act," the former Dillard University president said. "On behalf of the 8,000 students who attend 900 colleges and universities with UNCF scholarships, and the 39 historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) that make up UNCF and their 55,000 students, I want to express our gratitude and excitement over the passage of the bill.

"This reauthorization of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA), the first in 10 years, could not have come at a more critical time," he continued. "Getting a college education is more important than ever. This legislation will enable more students to attend college, graduate and launch their careers, and will thus take the country an important step closer to realizing the ideal expressed in UNCF's motto, "A mind is a terrible thing to waste."

Lomax said that he is very pleased to discover included within the final Higher Education Act legislation a number of programs of critical importance to students attending historically black colleges and universities. "These initiatives enable HBCUs and other minority-serving institutions (MSIs) to use existing resources to provide minority and low-income students with access to resources that will help them get the education they need and deserve," he said.

He noted the following examples:

€ Higher Pell Grants The reauthorized HEA will increase the maximum grant that low-income students can receive from the Pell Grant program, the federal government's primary need-based higher education program. The purchasing power of Pell Grants has eroded as college tuitions have increased while Pell Grant amounts have remained stagnant. These increases, however, are only a down payment on restoring the value of Pell Grants to their traditional levels. The bill also provides the opportunity for students to utilize year-round grants while simplifying the FAFSA process.

€ Helping HBCUs Repair and Rebuild their Campuses The HBCU Capital Financing Program allows the Department of Education to help HBCUs get capital financing at reduced rates to make needed repairs and install up-to-date technology in classrooms, libraries, laboratories and dormitories. The bill requires the HBCU Capital Financing Advisory Board to develop strategies to broaden participation in the program among smaller, under-resourced institutions.

€ Closing the "digital divide" between HBCUs and other minority-serving colleges and universities and major institutions. The Digital and Wireless Technology Opportunity Program in HEA provides federal funding to help give HBCUs and other minority schools access to improved technology.

€ Minority Science and Engineering Improvement Program encourages participation of minority youth in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines through a marketing campaign to promote these fields to target student populations.

€ Institutional Aid to HBCUs allows HBCUs to receive funds to provide financial literacy education, acquire property and seek technical assistance while adding six additional graduate programs to the list of eligible HBCUs and allowing hurricane-affected schools to be held harmless at enrollment levels prior to hurricane disruptions.

"These initiatives, along with many others contained in this bill, strengthen the nation's commitment to provide every child with a quality post-secondary education," Lomax said. "Moreover, the programs offer the tools needed for these students to pursue their dreams, enabling them to compete in an ever changing global economy."
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Tuesday, August 5th 2008 at 4:31PM
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