Florida A&M University (FAMU) welcomes passage of the Omnibus Appropriations and Emergency Coronavirus Relief Act and foresees many positives impacts it will have on citizens, communities and institutions around the nation. With regards to institutions of higher education, FAMU along with many Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are extremely pleased with the HBCU Capital Finance Debt Relief Act, which is included in the end of the year omnibus spending bill.
The HBCU Capital Financing Loan program provides some $1.34 billion in relief to HBCUs. FAMU will receive $111 million in debt forgiveness as part of the federal coronavirus relief package adopted by Congress. That includes $56 million in construction financing for the central energy plant, dining hub and the FAMU Towers residence hall, as well as $55 million in refinanced housing bonds.
“This is game-changing for HBCUs. It is an unprecedented gift to FAMU and comes during a very challenging year,” said FAMU President Larry Robinson, Ph.D. “We are extremely grateful to our supporters in Washington for crafting this stimulus legislation.”
In addition to congressional support, the Omnibus Appropriations and Emergency Coronavirus Relief Act, H.R. 133, was endorsed by the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF), United Negro College Fund (UNCF), and the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO).
The legislation also includes the largest expansion of the Pell Grant program in a decade; simplifies the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to ensure students get the support they need; and restores Pell Grant eligibility for incarcerated persons. The expanded Pell Grant program will result in hundreds of thousands of students becoming newly qualified and millions of current recipients receiving larger awards. Additionally, the bill restores Pell Grant eligibility for students defrauded by their institutions.
FAMU educates many Pell eligible students who are the first in their family to attend college. Many of those students go on to graduate and pursue successful careers, changing the economic trajectory of their families. That impact is reflected in FAMU’s No. 20 ranking in the U.S. News & World Report Social Mobility Index.
“This expansion of the Pell Grant program recognizes the immense needs of the students who attend college. It’s an investment that will pay significant dividends for generations to come,” Robinson added.
Other provisions of the measure include:
- $338 million for Title III, Part B, the Strengthening HBCUs program
- At least $1.7 billion for HBCUs and other MSIs in the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund
- Establishment of the Office of Minority Broadband Initiatives at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, which would focus on broadband access and adoption at HBCUs, as well as the creation of a $285 million pilot program to support such efforts
- Increases in all of our 1890 Land Grant accounts including full $10 million funding for both our Centers of Excellence and an additional $10 million in discretionary funding for our 1890 Scholarship Program (for a total of $20 million in funding for scholarships for the next school year)