Senate passes bipartisan bill to permanently fund historically black colleges

Senate passes bipartisan bill to permanently fund historically black colleges
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A bipartisan bill to permanently fund historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and other minority-serving institutions passed in the Senate Thursday.

The bill intends to provide $255 million annually for these institutions using money obtained from the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Act. It will also simplify the FAFSA application by removing 22 questions and get rid of the “bureaucratic verification nightmare for most students,” according to a release. 

The “verification nightmare” refers to when students have to verify that they provide the exact same information to the Department of Education and the IRS.

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Senate Education Committee Chairman Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderBolton upends Trump impeachment trial  McConnell urges GOP senators to keep powder dry on witness question Murkowski 'curious' to hear what Bolton has to say MORE (R-Tenn.), ranking member Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayOvernight Health Care: Trump becomes first sitting president to attend March for Life | Officials confirm second US case of coronavirus | Trump officials threaten California funding over abortion law Top health officials brief senators on coronavirus as infections spread Administration to give Senate briefing on coronavirus MORE (D-Wash.) and Sens. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottTrump legal team offers brisk opening defense of president Democrats worry Trump team will cherry-pick withheld documents during defense What to watch for on day 4 of the Senate impeachment trial MORE (R-S.C.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrMarsha Blackburn shares what book she's reading during Trump Senate trial GOP senator provides fidget spinners to Senate colleagues at lunch Juan Williams: Counting the votes to remove Trump MORE (R-N.C.) and Christopher CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsDemocrats rally in support of bill to repeal Trump travel ban This week: Senate barrels toward showdown on impeachment witnesses GOP-Biden feud looms over impeachment trial MORE (D-Del.) sponsored the bill.

“It’s hard to think of a piece of legislation that would have more of a lasting impact on minority students and their families than this bill,” Alexander said in the release.

Federal funding for HBCUs ran out at the end of September, Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerSenate Dems to Pompeo: Comments about NPR reporter 'insulting and contemptuous' Black caucus in Nevada: 'Notion that Biden has all of black vote is not true' The Hill's 12:30 Report: House managers to begin opening arguments on day two MORE (D-N.J.) noted in a release from early November. 

“While this funding should never have lapsed in the first place, I’m glad that we were able to reach a deal that provides minority-serving institutions with the certainty of funding they deserve—and I truly appreciate the work done on both sides of the aisle to get us to this point,” Murray said in the release. 

The bill also helps remove up to $6 billion of mistakes annually, allows 7 million applicants to be excused from requesting separate documentation from the IRS if they cannot access their data and speeds up repayment by getting rid of some annual paperwork.  

The FAFSA Act will contribute to the funding, which the Congressional Budget Office estimates will save taxpayers $2.8 billion over 10 years.