Home News Senate Passes Bipartisan Solution to Permanently Fund Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority Serving Institutions and Simplify the FAFSA for 20 Million Families

Senate Passes Bipartisan Solution to Permanently Fund Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority Serving Institutions and Simplify the FAFSA for 20 Million Families

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WASHINGTON, December 5, 2019 — The United States Senate today passed a bipartisan amendment to the House-passed FUTURE Act sponsored by Senate Education Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Senators Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.) to make permanent $255 million in annual funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority Serving Institutions, simplify the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for 20 million American families, and streamline income-driven repayment for nearly 8 million borrowers.

“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,” Senator Alexander said. “First, it provides permanent funding for HBCUs and other Minority Serving Institutions attended by over 2 million minority students. Second, it takes a big first step in simplifying the FAFSA for 20 million American families, including 8 million minority students, and eliminating the bureaucratic nightmare created by requiring students to give the federal government the same information twice.”

“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,” Senator Murray said. “By permanently extending funding for these valuable institutions and streamlining our student aid system, this deal is a win-win. Now, I look forward to continuing to work with my Republican colleagues on efforts to overhaul the Higher Education Act in a comprehensive, bipartisan way that does right by all students.”

“It is critical we ensure that every American family has access to a high-quality education, and today’s action is a big step in that direction,” Senator Scott said.“Our HBCUs will have more certainty in their financial planning, and millions of students will benefit from a streamlined FAFSA form. I’m thankful we were able to reach a bipartisan, common sense solution to help students across the country.”

“This is wonderful news for students and faculty at minority-serving institutions across the country, including the 13 schools in Alabama that receive this annual funding. After their funding expired in September this year, they can finally breathe a sigh of relief now that the Senate has passed a permanent renewal that will allow them to plan for the future for years to come,” Senator Jones said. “Importantly, this legislation will alsotake a long-overdue first step toward simplifying the FAFSA application and removing barriers for students across the country who want to achieve their dream of a college education. This is an example of the kinds of important goals we can achieve when both sides reach across the aisle to find common ground.”

“North Carolina is home to more HBCUs than any other state in the nation,” Senator Burr said. “The number one concern for HBCUs is unpredictable funding. This amendment alleviates that problem by providing certainty not just for two years, but for many years to come. I applaud Chairman Alexander for leading the effort to better preserve these historic learning institutions for current and future students.”

“I’m so proud that we were able to come together in a bipartisan way to ensure that HBCUs and other Minority Serving Institutions will be permanently supported with federal funds,” Senator Coons said. “In Delaware, we’re incredibly proud to be the home of one of our nation’s finest HBCUs, Delaware State University, and I’m thrilled that DSU will receive the federal support it deserves for years to come.”

Background on the Amendment:

  • Permanently reauthorizes and provides $255 million in annual mandatory funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other Minority Serving Institutions
  • Is fully paid for by including the FAFSA Act which passed the Senate unanimously last year and which:
    • Allows Providing Tax Information only Once—Students do not have to give their tax information to the federal government twice
    • Eliminates up to 22 Questions—Students give permission to the Department of Education to request tax return data already given to the Internal Revenue Service, which reduces the 108 questions on the FAFSA by up to 22 questions
    • Eliminates Verification Nightmare—For most students, eliminates so-called “verification” which is a bureaucratic nightmare that 5.5 million students go through annually to make sure the information they gave to the Department of Education is exactly the same as they gave to the IRS
    • Eliminates $6 Billion in Mistakes—According to the Department of Education, helps taxpayers by eliminating up to $6 billion each year in mistakes (both overpayments and underpayments) in Pell grants and student loans
  • Enables 7 million applicants who are currently unable to access their IRS data for their FAFSA to verify that they do not file taxes without requesting separate documentation from the IRS
  • Streamlines income driven repayment by eliminating burdensome annual paperwork for 7.7 million federal student loan borrowers on income-driven plans
  • According to the Congressional Budget Office, the FAFSA Act saves taxpayers $2.8 billion over ten years which will be used to pay for the permanent funding for HBCUs and other minority-serving institutions.

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