Here's How, In A Not-So-Surprising Twist, Trump's Budget Is Very Bad News For HBCUs

The president certainly does have a unique definition of "unwavering support."

Photo Credit: Photo: Spelman

| May 24 2017,

8:06 pm

Not sure if you’ve noticed, but people really, really, really hate Trump’s 2018 budget.

Like really hate.

Bernie Sanders called it “immoral.”

Elizabeth Warren put out this angrily-edited video:

Kamala Harris said it “is a betrayal.” A betrayal.

And you know who else isn’t too happy about it?

The United Negro College Fund. In a statement sent to Blavity, the fund’s president and CEO said today, “The proposed budget would cut federal aid lifelines that thousands of HBCU students depend on to attend college.” 

But wait, wait, wait, you might say — didn’t Donald Trump say that HBCUs had his “unwavering support?"

He did say that! 

But he also said that he fired Comey over Clinton’s e-mails, that he is the “least racist person," that there’s nothing suspicious about his relationship with Russia, that Mexico is a country full of “bad hombres,” that Rodrigo Duterte’s doing a “great job” and an “unbelievable job” with his mass killings, that he — actually, you know what, never mind, you only have so much time to read this article, so let’s move on.

Anyway, what’s the problem with the budget and HBCUs?

Well, there’s a lot, but here’s a quick hit list:

HBCUs are in bad need of money. Morehouse has an endowment of about $130 million; Bethune-Cookman’s endowment is about $55 million. To contrast, Harvard has an endowment of $37.6 billion and MIT’s endowment is $13 billion.

The federal government, for almost the last 30 years, has had a program to help increase the endowments of schools that could use a little boost — many HBCUs have received funding from this program; however, the Trump budget didn’t bother to allocate any funds for it, so those endowments expecting a boost can forget about it.

Too, many HBCUs, like lots of other institutions around the country, need some infrastructure help. One ways schools got the money they needed was through the National Parks Service, by registering as places of historic import. That option’s gone now too.

If you’re a work study student, well, you’re not in luck — work study supported federally funded programs were cut by 50 percent, or $500 million, if you prefer to think in dollars. 

Oh, and remember how the fact that Bethune-Cookman received Title III funding was used to defend DeVos giving this year’s commencement speech? Well, that’s being cut by more than $300 million. 

Although, if that means DeVos will be staying far away from HBCUs from here on out, maybe that one’s worth it.

Also taking huge hits are federal Pell Grants, Perkins loans and the public service loan forgiveness program — in fact, that last one will be phased out completely.

As with the NEA cuts, it is important to remember that the president’s budget isn’t the law of the land. However, the White House will be pushing Congress to make it just that. So if you don’t like the sound of all these body blows to HBCUs, why don’t you give your senators and representatives a call?