Head Start, Healthy Start, GEAR UP, and TRIO are preparing, inspiring and connecting students to college opportunities. HBCUs are moving the growing population of students through 2- and 4-year training and academic programs with exceptional results in high growth/needs industries. They are the best return on our investment. The members of the CBC will remain steadfast in its opposition to the proposed disinvestment in these precious programs for our most precious resource – our next generation – and in HBCUs, the economic engines of their service communities.
H.R.1, passed by House Republicans, will eviscerate HBCU and PBI programs, decrease the Pell Grant award by $850, and negatively impact education programs such as TRIO and GEAR UP that focus on student preparation, inspiration and retention initiatives. The cuts in funding for these institutions and programs will force millions of students to drop out of college, defer their college aspirations, or be denied a 2- or 4-year college education. They will cause HBCUs that began long deferred construction projects with federal funding to abort projects midstream. We recognize the severity of drastic funding cuts by the Republican leadership and will continue to be unyielding in its opposition to targeted reductions.
The National Center for Education Statistics reports that the short-term economic impact of HBCUs is $10 billion. This figure does not capture the vast other multipliers for out years. A Department of Commerce Report indicated that 101 HBCUs combined have an employment impact of 180,142 jobs, more than the 177,000 created by Bank of America, the nation’s 23rd largest employer.
HBCUs represent just 4 percent of U.S. universities. Yet they confer 22 percent of all bachelor degrees earned by African-Americans, 24 percent of all bachelor’s degrees awarded to African-Americans in science and engineering, and nearly 35 percent of all bachelor’s degrees to African-Americans in astronomy, biology, chemistry, mathematics and physics. The top 8 conferrers of science and engineering degrees to African Americans and 20 of the top 50 are HBCUs. Fifty percent of African American teachers graduated from an HBCU. The private HBCUs attain these results at a cost of roughly $10,000 less than their Historically White Colleges and University (HWCU) counterparts, according to the College Board, and public HBCUs at $2,500 less than their HWCU counterparts. HBCUs are vitally important to the intellectual, economic, civic, cultural and political fabric of our nation.
The members of the CBC will not relent in its support for the pipeline programs to and through HBCUs and PBIs. We will remain unstinting in our support for HBCUs. They are doing the heavy lifting educating black students and increasing the numbers of other students who want to attain a degree in a smaller, more richly diverse environment, and they deserve our continued support.
Rep. Barbara Lee is a Democratic congresswoman from California, and Rep. Jim Clyburn is a 10-term member of Congress from South Carolina.