Officials from the US Department of Education agreed last week to extend several review and adminitrative processes associated with its Title III – Part B program, a vital funding initiative for historically black colleges and universities which helps to build capacity in teaching, training and campus growth.
A source close to the Department of Education confirmed that members of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, United Negro College Fund and the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education met with ED Undersecretary and Senior Adviser James Manning, Office of Postsecondary Education Advisers Leonard Haynes, Kathleen Smith and Adam Kissel, White House Public Liaison Director Omarosa Manigault, White House Initiative on HBCUs Executive Director Jonathan Holifield to discuss concerns about sudden changes to the department’s administration of Title III funding and reporting standards.
The three advocacy groups requested the meeting last Wednesday to specifically discuss changes with the department’s ‘no cost extension’ program, which would have discontinued a long-standing clause for HBCUs which have not spent the entirety of Title III grants over a certain period to receive extra time to procure funding for construction or support for academic and outreach programs.
Department of Education officials originally suggested that HBCUs were not spending funds awarded by the federal government, and that stronger review processes were needed to underscore how Title III funds were supporting campus development efforts.
Schools argued that spending discrepancies, in some cases, were the result of changeover in campus or state legislative leadership. They also said that ED officials were unclear on timetables for the new rules, and had given different campuses varying guidance on how to prepare for the changes.
TMCF President and CEO Johnny Taylor called the agreement a signal of the administration’s value of HBCUs in the higher education sector.
“While there is still much work for the Trump Administration to do to deliver on its promise to help the HBCU community, this resolution is a very positive step. We at TMCF have always believed in a non-partisan legislative strategy, and the decision by the leadership of the Department of Education is proof that we are better off working with this Administration to benefit our schools and our students.”
Title III funding amounted to $244 million of the overall $1.9 billion of federal appropriations, student loans, grants and contracts which went to HBCUs in 2014-15.