The Promoting Real Opportunities, Success, and Prosperity Through Education Reform Act was created by House Republicans as an attempt to reauthorize the Higher Education Act of 1965. Authors of the bill say that the bill seeks to support students in completing an affordable post-secondary education that will prepare them to enter the workforce with the skills they need for lifelong success. As good as that sounds, the bill seeks to do this by taking aim at essential repayment programs and minority-serving institutions. Currently, there are eight student loan repayment plans. The bill will eliminate six of those programs which include loan forgiveness for students who pursue careers in the public sector. It leaves the two options of a standard 10-year repayment plan or an income-based plan. Minority students are greatly affected by this since they are the largest group of borrowers. A UNCF study shined a light on the debt burden that HBCU students carry, this bill only makes that burden heavier.
Not only does the bill make repayment an even more arduous task for students, especially students of color, but it also goes after the funding of schools that service mostly minority students. Provisions contained therein tighten eligibility requirements for minority-serving institutions to receive Title III and Title V grant funds by establishing a new metric that requires these institutions to graduate or transfer at least 25 percent of their students. These grant programs are supposed to help institutions increase academic resources and offerings. Yet if these institutions do not meet the 25 percent threshold, they risk losing federal funds and in turn, they risk closing their doors. Although this is targeted at minority-serving institutions, Historically Black Colleges and Universities are exempt. If we were including HBCUs that would mean that 61 schools who receive these funds are ineligible or close to it. There are 36 schools who would be ineligible to continue to receive these funds if the bill were to pass today. This list shares what schools are seen as minority-serving institutions.
Higher Education advocates recognize that the bill is not well thought out and truly puts at-risk students and many schools that serve them. HBCUs may not be on the chopping block but their students are in a myriad of other ways. Whether you're currently enrolled in school or a proud member of team black excellence living that alumni life, we all are in deep trouble if a room full of congressional leaders not paying student loans continues to make choices for those of us struggling to make that monthly payment. It's not too late to contact your congressional leader and voice your opinion. Something has to be done before college no longer serves as the dream, but a deterrent to a better future.