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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
January 8, 2007

CONTACT:
Director of Communications
210/576-3206 or 210/367-0539
news@hacu.net

A New Congress Brings New Hope for Hispanic Higher Education

HACU’s 2007 Legislative Agenda includes Appropriations Requests
for HEA, Farm Bill, DREAM Act, No Child Left Behind Act, STEM Programs

SAN ANTONIO, TX – Hundreds of presidents representing the most under-funded colleges in America are heading to Washington, D.C. this spring hoping to raise awareness for the Hispanic higher education cause among our nation’s legislators.

The annual Capitol Forum, sponsored by the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), is set for March 25-27 (www.hacu.net). Attending will be leaders in the Hispanic higher education community, including HACU’s federal and corporate partners, who will meet with key members of the House and Senate. At stake is nearly half a billion dollars needed to successfully educate the nation’s largest minority group and fastest-growing labor pool.

“It is in our highest national interest to invest in the colleges and universities which educate the majority of the nation’s Hispanic students,” said HACU President Antonio Flores. “Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) are the backbone of Hispanic higher education, yet remain the most under-funded institutions serving the neediest ethnic population in America,” he said.

On the agenda will be 22 amendments to the Higher Education Act (HEA) along with proposals for the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act (Farm Bill), the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, and increased funding opportunities in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Current U.S. Department of Labor studies show Hispanics represent about 13 percent of the U.S. work force and make up one of every three new workers today. In 2025, one of every two new workers in the U.S. labor force will be Hispanic.

In spite of this extraordinary growth, Hispanics suffer the lowest high school and college graduation rates of any major population group, reports HACU.

“Hispanics remain under-represented in every field demanding an advanced degree, from teaching, law and medicine to science, mathematics and technology,” Flores said. “Historic funding inequities and lack of resources continue to be a problem for HSIs and this is why more than ever, we need to invest in the institutions that are educating America’s future work force.”

Overall, HSIs, which have enrollments that are 25% or greater, graduate half of all Hispanics attending college today. On average, however, HSIs receive less than half the federal funding per student annually than all institutions of higher education.

Title V of the HEA remains the chief vehicle at the federal level for targeting competitive grants to HSIs, but current Title V appropriations don’t begin to address the funding disparities. 

This year, HACU is requesting $175 million for undergraduate programs and $20 million for a new graduate education program. Other HACU appropriation requests include:

  • A U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) appropriation of $45 million for HSIs: $20 million under Title VII of the Farm Bill for HSI competitive grants and an additional $25 million under Title X for HSIs (and other entities) to assist socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.
  • A U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) appropriation of $17 million: $12 million for the HUD Hispanic-Serving Institutions Assisting Communities (HSIAC) program and an additional $5 million to reinstate the HUD work-study program to aid two-year HSIs.
  • A U.S. Department of Defense appropriation for HSIs of $20 million: $15 million for research development, testing and evaluation infrastructure support for HSIs and $5 million for faculty development programs for HSIs.
  • A U.S. Department of Health and Human Services line-item appropriation of $20 million for HSIs within the Health Professional Bureau/Division of Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) for faculty development, research and capacity building.
  • A National Science Foundation appropriation of $30 million for HSIs in two key areas crucial to the STEM capacity of the nation: $20 million for research, curriculum and infrastructure development and $10 million to support a HACU/HSI consortium initiative between HSIs and Hispanic-Serving School Districts (HSSDs) to increase the academic competency of Hispanic high school graduates in the STEM areas.
  • A NASA appropriation of $10 million to support a HACU/HSI consortium to elevate the regional pre-collegiate Proyecto Access model initiative for STEM to a nationwide program.
  • A U.S. Department of Energy appropriation of $23 million for a new Western Hemisphere Energy Cooperation program that includes HSIs as eligible institutions of higher education.

HACU represents more than 450 colleges and universities located in the U.S., Puerto Rico, Latin America, Spain and Portugal. Within the last 15 years, the number of U.S. colleges and universities qualifying to be designated as HSIs has doubled. HACU officials see this trend continuing as more “emerging HSIs” are identified.

“By 2050, Hispanics will have nearly tripled in number,” Flores said. “The academic success of Hispanic Americans and HSIs will have a dramatic impact on the present and future prosperity, security and social progress of our nation. Congress must act now.” 

To schedule interviews with HACU President Antonio Flores, call (210) 576-3206.