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 SAN ANTONIO, Texas – The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) applauds President Bush’s call for a record increase in Hispanic higher education spending contained in his formal budget delivered to Congress this week. HACU is hopeful Congress ultimately will exceed the President’s spending proposals in targeting urgently needed new federal education support to the nation’s fast-growing Hispanic communities.

“We welcome President Bush’s proposal for a 5 percent increase in Hispanic higher education support at a time when he is proposing that most other domestic spending programs outside the national defense arena receive a minimal 2 percent increase in their federal Fiscal Year (FY) 2004 budgets in this uncertain economy,” HACU President and CEO Antonio R. Flores said Tuesday.

“Certainly, enhancing the advanced knowledge and skills of the nation’s youngest and largest ethnic population is critical to our nation’s economic strength and security,” Flores said. “Consequently, HACU is hopeful that the President’s budget will prove the springboard to a larger and more adequate appropriation from Congress for our nation’s historically under-funded Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSIs).”

President Bush is proposing an increase in appropriations for HSIs from an expected $89 million appropriation in FY 2003 to $94 million in FY 2004 under Title V of the Higher Education Act – up from $86 million in Title V appropriations to HSIs for FY 2002.

HACU, which currently is urging that final votes on the FY 2003 budget contain a $125 million Title V appropriation for HSIs, is requesting a $175 million Title V appropriation for HSIs in FY 2004.

Title V of the Higher Education Act is the chief vehicle for targeting federal funding to HSIs, which have a student enrollment that is at least 25 percent Hispanic. HACU represents more than 340 colleges and universities, including the nation’s HSIs, which collectively serve the largest concentrations of Hispanic higher education institutions in the United States.

“Even though our HSIs serve the nation’s youngest, largest and fastest-growing ethnic population, HSIs continue to receive substantially less federal funding per student on average than any other group of degree-granting institutions,” Flores said. “It is vital that Congress address this costly disparity quickly and comprehensively to best serve a population that will so dramatically impact our country’s workplace, tax base, national security needs and leadership ranks for the rest of the 21st century.”

Because of the tremendous surge in the Hispanic college-age population, the rapidly growing numbers of higher education institutions becoming eligible for HSI status would substantially dilute the effect of even a 5 percent increase in federal spending for Hispanic higher education for FY 2004, Flores said. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the Hispanic population increased by nearly 60 percent between 1990 and 2000.

“We are hopeful final votes on FY 2004 appropriations for HSIs by Congress will reflect this surge in the sheer numbers of HSIs, and provide our HSIs the federal support they need to best meet the college and career needs of our Hispanic communities,” Flores said.

For more information, contact HACU at (210) 692-3805. Ext. 3214. Or visit www.hacu.net.