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Member Advisory--February 11, 2005

 

HACU urges support for two new Next Generation HSI bills

 

HACU urges the leadership of every HACU-member college and university to call upon your Members of Congress, both House and Senate, to support two new bills that would provide first-time support for graduate education at Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs). These bills would also provide new articulation program support for two-year HSIs. Every HSI will benefit from this important new legislation.

 

Congressman Ruben Hinojosa of Texas introduced on Thursday, February 10, 2005, the “Next Generation Hispanic-Serving Institutions,” HR 761, and Senator Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico introduced companion legislation with the same title in the Senate, S 357.  Both bills enjoyed bipartisan support, HR 761 had 80 cosponsors and S 357 had 5.  (See links at bottom of Advisory to lists of co-sponsors.)

 

The bills would authorize $125 million in new spending on graduate education enhancements at HSIs beginning in federal fiscal year 2006. These measures would add a new graduate education program component to Title V of the Higher Education Act (HEA). The bills would also increase authorized funding levels for all Title V undergraduate education programs for HSIs, as well as add a new component addressing the need for two-year/four-year articulation and student support programs. These bills would also eliminate regulatory barriers impacting all HSIs, specifically the two year wait period between Title V grants and the low income assurance requirement for federal HSI eligibility.

 

HACU is urging the leadership of every HACU-member institution to immediately contact their congressional representatives to sign on as co-sponsors of these bills, which are of tremendous benefit to all HSIs. Please contact the Washington, D.C. office of your Senators and Representative and ask that they sign on (if they have not already done so) with Senator Bingaman or Congressman Hinojosa as co-sponsors of S 357 or HR 761 as soon as possible.  If they are already co-sponsors, it doesn’t hurt to call and thank them!

 

Your action on this issue will make the difference in building the strong, bipartisan support needed to ensure passage of this critically needed legislation. Please contact HACU’s Washington, D.C., offices at (202) 833-8361 for any additional information or assistance.


About This Proposed Legislation:

 

Title V of the HEA remains the chief vehicle for targeting federal funds to HSIs. Congressman Hinojosa’s and Senator Bingaman’s legislation would authorize a first-time $125 million level of spending for graduate education grants to HSIs. This bill would establish a competitive grants program that would allow eligible HSIs to fund graduate fellowships and support services for graduate students, infrastructure improvements, faculty development, technology and distance education and collaborative arrangements with other institutions.

 

The “Next Generation HSI” legislation would also:

 

*Increase current support for two-year and four-year undergraduate efforts under Title V by increasing the authorization level to $175 million beginning in FY 2006.

 

*Reduce regulatory burdens for HSIs participating in the existing undergraduate Title V program by eliminating the two-year wait-out period between applications for grants, and by eliminating the 50 percent low-income assurance requirement for the federal definition of HSIs.

 

*Add a new use for Title V undergraduate grants by allowing the funding of articulation agreements and student support programs designed to facilitate the transfer of students from two-year to four-year institutions.

 

Rationale:

 

The need for graduate education program grants for HSIs

Our country’s economic success and security will increasingly depend on the level of advanced knowledge and skills of its diverse citizenry. Hispanics currently earn only about 5 percent of master’s degrees, 3 percent of doctoral degrees and 5 percent of first professional degrees. The bills directly address the need to increase the number of under-represented Hispanics with advanced degrees in teaching, science, engineering, medicine and technology. HSIs, which serve the largest concentrations of Hispanic higher education students, are best positioned to meet this need.

 

The need for higher authorized funding for undergraduate program grants for HSIs

HSIs serve the largest concentrations of Hispanic students, who represent the nation’s youngest and largest ethnic population. HSIs are at the forefront of every major effort to serve a population that also suffers the lowest high school and college graduation rates of any major population group. Yet, HSIs on average receive only half the funding per student accorded to all other degree-granting institutions. Increasing the Title V authorization level of funding for HSIs to $175 million would directly address this historical inequity.

 

The need for a new two-year/four-year Title V grant component

More than 50 percent of Hispanic higher education students attend two-year community colleges, often because they are the closest, most affordable entry into higher education. Expanding the allowable use of Title V funding to develop articulation agreements and student support programs designed to facilitate the transfer of Hispanic college students from two-year institutions to four-year institutions will provide HSIs the means to ultimately increase the numbers of Hispanic Americans with four-year degrees.

 

The need to eliminate the two-year wait-out period between Title V grants

Two-year wait-out periods now required between applications by eligible HSIs for Title V grants only impede efforts to implement continuing programs with long-range solutions to Hispanic higher education challenges. Clearly, eliminating the two-year wait-out period will be of immense importance to equipping our HSIs with the continuous funding they need to best answer these complex challenges.

 

The need to eliminate the 50 percent low-income assurance requirement

Removing the "50 percent low-income assurance" requirement provision from the federal definition of HSIs would erase an inequitable component of the Title V definition of HSIs. In addition to requiring that at least 25 percent of the full-time student equivalent student enrollment be Hispanic, 50 percent of those students must also fit federal low-income definitions. This additional regulatory burden, requiring time-consuming documentation of information not normally gathered, is not required of other Minority-Serving Institutions and should be eliminated.

 

What you can do:

 

Grass roots action is essential to ensure that these bills introduced on February 10 garner a maximum number of bipartisan co-sponsors. Please contact the Washington, D.C., offices of your Members of Congress.  Urge your Senators or Representatives to sign on to Senator Bingaman’s or Congressman Hinojosa’s “Next Generation” bill as co-sponsors as soon as possible.

 

Click here for list of House bill co-sponsors.

 

Click here for list of Senate bill co-sponsors.

 

YOUR LEADERSHIP WILL MAKE THE DIFFERENCE!

 

HACU Member Advisories are a service of the

 Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities.