Senator Lamar Alexander, a Tennessee Republican, yesterday single handily blocked an effort to to renew more than $255 million in annual Funding for HBCUs and minority-serving institutions. The funding was included in the FUTURE Act, which the U.S. House passed earlier this week.
The current round of funding for HBCUs and MSIs funds out on September 30th, and prospects for extending the funding beyond that date look dim.
Alexander, chairman of the Senate education committee, objected to unanimous passage of the legislation, known as the FUTURE Act, and proposed in its place a long-term extension of Title III, Part F, funding along with a package of bipartisan higher ed bills. His actions were met with frustration by congressional Democrats, who called for a clean passage of the FUTURE Act.
The money at stake backs STEM-related education at minority-serving institutions. Supporters say that’s important for increasing diversity in science and engineering professions. Unlike other Title III money, the funding is mandatory, meaning Congress doesn’t have to appropriate it each year and colleges have more certainty when they set their budgets.
Of the $255 million in Title III, Part F, money, about $85 million goes specifically to historically black colleges.