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Louis Jacobson
By Louis Jacobson July 15, 2020
Emily Venezky
By Emily Venezky July 15, 2020

Under Trump HBCUs and vocational education are ensured future funding

Trump has been meeting with leaders of historically Black colleges and universities, or HBCUs, since the beginning of his campaign. In 2017 he enacted an order that moved an HBCU initiative from the Department of Education to the White House.

His administration's largest contribution to HBCU funding was the signing of the FUTURE Act in 2019. After debating and compromising, Congress passed the act ensuring that the original STEM funding for HBCUs from President George W. Bush's 2007 College Cost Reduction and Access Act would continue to be awarded. This act ensures HBCUs receive an annual $255 million in STEM funding for the next 10 years.

Harry L. Williams, president of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, told PolitiFact that before the act passed, HBCUs and advocacy groups would have to "annually ask Congress to renew these dollars." He said that for Trump, "this is a positive outcome that his administration will be able to say that he supported," though he added that the act was made possible by bipartisan support in Congress.

The Trump administration has also made progress on Trump's promise to ensure funding for trade and vocational education. In 2018 Trump signed the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, which reauthorizes a $1.2 billion program from 2006. The program will now extend to 2024 and increase its funding by 11% over those six years. 

Trump has signed acts from Congress that will ensure HBCUs and vocational education receive significant federal funding in the future. We rate this a Promise Kept.

Our Sources

Interview with Harry L. Williams, president of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, July 9, 2020

The White House, Presidential Executive Order on The White House Initiative to Promote Excellence and Innovation at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Feb 28, 2017

Inside Higher Ed, Deadline nears for Congress to extend funding for HBCUs, Sept 13, 2019

AP, Trump signs bill restoring funding for black colleges, Dec 19, 2019

NASFAA, Overview of the College Cost Reduction And Access Act (CCRAA), Sept 7, 2007

Louis Jacobson
By Louis Jacobson February 19, 2018

In Trump budget, black colleges would escape hits that other education programs would take

As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump promised to ensure funding for historic black colleges and universities, or HBCUs.

In his fiscal year 2019 budget proposal, Trump preserved level funding for HBCUs, which was better than other higher education recipients of federal funding. Overall, the Education Department would see a 10.5 percent cut.

The Thurgood Marshall College Fund, an advocate for HBCUs, said told us the group is "appreciative" of the level funding request, but it also said it was "concerned" about other cuts that "could have a detrimental impact on our students' ability to persist and graduate from HBCUs."

The group cited risks to funding for the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant program and the Federal Work-Study program.

Separately, the spending agreement passed by Congress and signed by the president included debt forgiveness for four HBCU campuses that experienced significant damage from Hurricane Katrina. "The decision to relieve these institutions of this significant debt obligation will allow them to focus their efforts exclusively on their missions of educating students and serving their respective communities," said Paris Dennard, the senior director of strategic communications for the Marshall fund.

As for the part of the promise about vocational education, the budget maintains $1.1 billion in funding for career and technical education.

Trump's budget proposal sticks to his promise to ensure funding for HBCUs and trade and vocational education, but it is only a non-binding wish list.

For now, we rate the promise In the Works.

Our Sources

President Donald Trump's 2019 budget proposal

Associated Press, "Agency-by-agency highlights of Trump's 2019 budget," Feb. 12, 2018

Email interview with Paris Dennard, the senior director of strategic communications for the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, Feb. 14, 2018

Louis Jacobson
By Louis Jacobson March 28, 2017

Executive order, budget proposal advance promise

President Donald Trump has taken some early steps to fulfill his promise to "ensure funding for historic black colleges and universities," but it remains to be seen how much funding Congress ultimately provides.

The clearest step came on Feb. 28, 2017, when Trump welcomed leaders of historically black colleges and universities, or HBCUs, to the Oval Office for the signing of an executive order to launch a White House initiative "to promote excellence and innovation at historically black colleges and universities."

According to the executive order, the initiative is tasked with working with "agencies, private-sector employers, educational associations, philanthropic organizations, and other partners to increase the capacity of HBCUs to provide the highest-quality education to an increasing number of students."

It also created a presidentially appointed advisory board to advise the president "on all matters pertaining to strengthening the educational capacity of HBCUs."

The executive order provides rhetorical support and a direct line to the White House. Potentially the bigger step, however, came with the release of the president's fiscal 2018 budget proposal.

Overall for the Education Department, the White House proposed $59 billion in discretionary funding -- a $9 billion, or 13 percent, cut.

However, the budget proposal maintains current spending levels of $492 million for HBCUs and other institutions of higher education that serve minorities.

In addition, the Pell Grant program -- the financial-aid program that plays a key role in supporting the education of many students at HBCUs -- would also keep constant funding under the president's budget.

Given the substantial overall budgetary cut to the department, it's notable that these two budget lines were spared from reductions.

A final rating will need to wait until Congress provides actual funding bills. For now, we rate this promise In the Works.

Our Sources

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