Despite the fact that Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU’s) provide sound educational opportunities to promising students, smaller endowments, lower levels of federal investment, and fewer alumni giving have created a funding deficit across many of these institutions.

In acknowledgment of this inequity, Trump vowed government support for the nation's HBCU’s. While he quickly reneged on his promise (even going so far as alleging that federal funding for HBCUs might be unconstitutional), a group of Senators has been working hard to secure funding for HBCU's through the HBCU Capital Financing Improvement Act (S.2268)

Originally co-sponsored by Senators Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH), the bill has powerful backing with the support of Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), David Perdue (R-GA), Tim Kaine (D-VA), and  Congresswoman Alma Adams (NC-12), who introduced the companion bill in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Unanimously passed by the House in the 114th Congress, the HBCU Capital Financing Improvement Act aims to provide HBCU’s with access to capital financing and construction of campus infrastructure while helping to offset inequities faced by HBCUs in the private bond market. 

Specifically, the bill will:

  • Reclassify the escrow account as a bond insurance fund to allow public institutions participating in the program, in some states, to pay for any defaults or delinquency using state funds.
  • Allow the Department of Education to offer financial counseling to those institutions interested in participating but unable to meet the program’s financial requirements
  • Require the HBCU Capital Financing Advisory Board to prepare an annual report to Congress that would provide an overview of the loans granted and recommendations for addressing issues related to construction financing for HBCUs.

“HBCU’s are a vital part of not just our nation’s higher education system, but of the American Dream. For my father, born poor in the segregated South, attending North Carolina Central University, an HBCU, proved to be a bridge for him and my family to move from poverty to the Middle Class in a single generation. Students attending HBCU’s today deserve the same opportunities.” said Senator Booker. “I’m proud that this bipartisan bill will make much-needed changes to the way HBCU’s are financed to ensure that these important institutions of education and opportunity are accessible and strong for years to come.” Amen, sir.

“The more than 100 HBCUs nationwide play a vital role in our higher education system. They provide pathways to opportunity for over 300,000 students annually, many of whom are first-generation college students. Unfortunately, many HBCUs lack the large endowments often found at other institutions. Programs such as the HBCU Capital Financing Program supplement smaller endowments and provide HBCUs with funding for much-needed upgrades and maintenance to their campuses,” said Congresswoman Adams. “I was proud to reintroduce this bipartisan legislation in the House and I’m excited to work with my Senate colleagues to ensure its inclusion in the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.”

We can't wait to see the fruit of this good political labor.