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Trump Backs Black Colleges

President Donald Trump has signed a bill into law permanently setting aside over $250 million a year to fund the country’s historically black colleges and universities, as well as other minority-serving institutions (MSIs). 

“When I took office. I promised to fight for HBCUs and my administration continues to deliver,” the President said upon signing the proposal, which had bipartisan support. 

“A few months ago, funding for HBCUs was in jeopardy. But the White House and Congress came together and reached a historic agreement,” he added.

The legislation will restore a 10-year, $255 million yearly mandatory funding program to HBCUs and MSIs, including $850 million specifically for HBCUs. It also simplifies the paperwork for applications for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by trimming the questions in the application form. The bill also streamlined the repayment scheme for its almost 8 million borrowers.

With the funding in limbo, some of these HBCUs and MSIs had charted plans for deep cuts in school budgets and termination of some staffing jobs. With the funding now guaranteed, US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos lauded it as a “historic bill” reflecting the resolve of the government to help students.

No Better Champion

President Trump said these historically black colleges and universities “never had better champions in the White House” as he lashed out at the former administration for failing to deliver.

“My Administration will continue to fight for HBCUs and Minority Serving Institutions, as well as the millions of students and hundreds of communities they serve. These wonderful institutions are essential to Keep America Great,” he added.

In February 2017, the President signed an executive order (EO) on HBCUs saying that schools will be a “top priority” of his administration.

His EO— titled Presidential Executive Order on The White House Initiative to Promote Excellence and Innovation at Historically Black Colleges and Universities — moved the federal initiative HBCUs into the White House from the Department of Education and established a President’s Board of Advisors on HBCUs. Part of that Executive Director’s job is to strengthen schools through enhanced planning and development, collaboration with the private sector, participation in federal programs and upgraded infrastructure.

“With this executive order, we will make HBCUs a priority in the White House — an absolute priority,” President Trump said then. 

“A lot of people are going to be angry that they’re not a priority, but that’s OK,” he added after convening all of the HBCUs presidents in the Oval Office within 45 days of his presidency.

UNCF Responds

Michael L. Lomax, United Negro College Fund (UNCF) president and CEO, said back in 2017 that “a new HBCU Executive Order issued in the first 100 days of the Trump-Pence administration is a step in the right direction to promote the critical mission of HBCUs.”

UNCF is an American philanthropic organization that funds scholarships for black students and general scholarship funds.

“The president has set a high bar; however, we await the opportunity to see if the administration will meet their pledges, specifically as it pertains to funding for HBCUs,” he said then.

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