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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 30, 2006

House and Senate pass Higher Education Extension Act that includes major HACU legislation eliminating the 2-year wait-out period and 50 percent requirement for HSIs.

San Antonio, TX – The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) and its supporters in the U.S. Congress scored another important victory on behalf of Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) and Hispanic higher education with the passage, last night, by the Senate of the Third Higher Education Extension Act of 2006 (HR 6138), which had been passed by the House last September 27. This Act eliminates the 2-year wait-out period between HSI funding cycles and the requirement of 50% Hispanic student low-income enrollment for HSI eligibility. Although the extension of the Act is through June 2007, the removal of these provisions is indefinite.    

 

"The HACU family of more than 450 member-institutions, especially the 240 HSIs, and countless supporters are pleased that the U.S. Congress removed two provisions harmful to HSIs and Hispanics from the Higher Education Act of 1965," said Antonio Flores, President of HACU, in praising the passing of HR 6138.  “This action by Congress frees HSIs from unnecessary and onerous provisions that affect their ability to serve their students, especially those of Hispanic descent.  We are grateful to our friends in Congress and will continue to work together with them to increase educational opportunity in the nation,” added Flores. 

 

HSIs had to wait two years before they were eligible to re-apply for the Department of Education’s Title V Developing Institutions grants.  These grants afford HSIs  much-needed funding for capacity building, such as the development of programs that provide Hispanic students the opportunity to enter fields where they are severely underrepresented. 

 

“The two-year wait out period has been harmful to HSI programs and has been a detriment for these institutions to fully serve their students to the best of their ability,” said Congressman Ruben Hinojosa, Chair of Congressional Hispanic Caucus Education Taskforce.  “While I clearly wish that we could have reauthorized the Higher Education Act for another five years, I am pleased that we are moving forward to remove these barriers.”

 

The removal of the 50% low-income requirement will allow HSIs to gain eligibility for funding without the costly gathering and reporting of individual Hispanic-student income documentation, which often was impossible for HSIs to obtain.

 

“Hispanic-Serving Institutions are key members of our higher education system and provide crucial academic opportunities for students,” said Senator Hutchison.  “I have been working with presidents of these institutions in Texas to resolve these issues.  This legislation will make critical changes to the system and the institutions that serve so many of our students.”

 

HACU is thankful to many in the Senate, but especially to Senators Bill Frist (R-TN), Harry Reid (D-NV), Michael Enzi (R-WY), Edward Kennedy (D-MA), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), and Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) who were able to pass this crucial legislation that will benefit Hispanic students and HSIs for generations to come. Senators Bingaman and Hutchison co-chair the bipartisan HSI Senate Coalition.   

 

HACU is also indebted to many House Members, particularly to Representatives Howard McKeon (R-CA), George Miller (D-CA), Patrick Tiberi (R-OH), and especially to Representative Ruben Hinojosa (D-TX) who has been championing Hispanic higher education since entering Congress. Their support has been key to HACU’s advocacy and success.

 

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the Congressional Hispanic Conference members and their leaders also have consistently supported HSIs and HACU’s legislative proposals in behalf of Hispanic higher education. “They all deserve our gratitude and admiration for their unwavering commitment to HSIs and HACU’s efforts,” concluded Flores.    

 

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For more information, contact the Office of the President of HACU at (210) 692-3805 or visit http://www.hacu.net/.