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  WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) today applauded Congress for approving record new federal support for the nation’s Hispanic higher education students.

President Bush is expected to quickly sign into law a compromise reached by Congress late Thursday on a $93 million federal Fiscal Year (FY) 2003 appropriation for the nation’s Hispanic-Serving Institutions, or HSIs.

HSIs, which have a student enrollment that is at least 25 percent Hispanic, serve the largest concentrations of Hispanic higher education students in the United States. Hispanics suffer the lowest high school and college graduation rates of any major population group. Despite those challenges and the rapid growth of the Hispanic population overall, HSIs continue to receive far less federal funding per student on average compared to all other degree-granting institutions.

The new $93 million FY 2003 appropriation for HSIs under Title V of the Higher Education represents a 7 percent increase over the $86 million FY 2002 appropriation for HSIs. The vote by House and Senate conference committee members also exceeded the original White House recommendation for an $89 million FY 2003 Title V appropriation.

“We applaud Congress for supporting this critically needed investment in the college and career success of the nation’s youngest and largest ethnic population,” said HACU President and CEO Antonio R. Flores.

“At a time when defense spending is dominating the national agenda in an already uncertain economy, we celebrate the wisdom and foresight of Congress for voting to equip our students with the advanced knowledge and skills they need to best contribute to our country’s long-term economic strength and national security,” Flores said.

For HACU, the record new increase in federal funding support for Hispanic higher education represented another major victory for the nation’s chief advocate for the nation’s HSIs. HACU and its allies have won a successive series of federal spending increases over the past several years for historically under-funded HSIs.

“The Congressional Hispanic Caucus has been instrumental in supporting HACU’s agenda for creating a better, brighter future for Hispanics, who also make up the fastest-growing college-age population in this country,” Flores said.

“We are especially grateful to the leadership of Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas and Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico as co-chairs of the bipartisan Senate Hispanic-Serving Institutions Coalition for so successfully promoting higher education access, equity and excellence for Hispanic Americans and, indeed, for all Americans,” Flores said.

HACU represents more than 340 colleges and universities serving the largest concentrations of Hispanic higher education students in the United States.

For more information, contact HACU National Headquarters in San Antonio, Texas, at (210) 692-3805. Ext. 3214. Or visit www.hacu.net.