CBC: Parent Plus Changes Not Enough

Congressional Black Caucus Chair Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) said in a statement Friday that the Department of Education’s announced changes to the troublesome Parent Plus Loan criteria are “merely a way to mitigate” the problem, not solve it.

In a statement, the chairwoman said this will not prevent parents from being rejected for the loan in droves, noting that any new rules the department decides to enact would not be effective until Spring 2016.

“The solution proposed by the Department is not a victory for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). What the CBC and members of the HBCU community are seeking is a real solution. Asking to suspend a policy that has closed the doors of education to thousands of students is a realistic and reasonable request. Once again, we ask that the Department of Education cease and desist,” Fudge said.

Fudge contended that the proposed “solution” will do nothing to ensure parents are eligible for loans and will continue to make the task of financing a college education more difficult.

In a joint statement released this week, Fudge, Hampton University president and  President’s Board of Advisors on HBCUs chair Dr. William Harvey, NAFEO president Lezli Baskerville, UNCF president Michael Lomax and Thurgood Marshall College Fund president Johnny Taylor called for the Department of Education to immediately revert back to the pre-2011 interpretation of “adverse credit history” to stop the “hemorrhaging” HBCUs are facing.

“There were no new regulations; and therefore, there was not the typical notice and comment period.  Clearly, the students and the institutions were blindsided,” Harvey said.

Baskerville reiterated her previous position that the community should have been consulted prior to the changes to appropriately analyze the impact the new criteria would have on the institutions prior to enactment.

“The reality is that the current and proposed public input actions should have taken place prior to the Department’s significant policy change,” Baskerville said. The Administrative Procedures Act specifies that in these cases, public ‘notice and comment’ are required in advance of the policy change.  Implementing the change when there is no indication that there were especially high default rates, fraud or abuse, or any loss on the federal government’s investment in this program is perplexing and it has resulted in the hemorrhaging of tens of thousands of students from our campuses.

The proposed fixes enacted by Congress last week have only further frustrated HBCU leaders and advocates, many of whom have continually voiced their growing doubts over the president’s commitment to supporting the nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

“Particularly troublesome for me is how the Administration could possibly reconcile its 2020 goal for the United States to have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world with its changes in Parent PLUS resulting in 28,000 HBCU students not being able to fill the gap in resources needed to pay for college and a loss of at least $154M in revenue to HBCUs.  In my view, the 2020 goal and the changes in Parent PLUS are irreconcilable,” Harvey said.

Taylor believes that the president must get directly involved in correcting the blows HBCUs have suffered during his administration.

“If President Obama is really serious about addressing the needs of our students and families, he would direct Secretary Duncan to do something about this now and not wait until 2014 while thousands of would-be college students sit at home,” Taylor said.

The joint statement again hints at pursuing legal action against the Obama Administration, an idea that has been raised a number of times in the past.

VIDEO – Hampton’s Kameron Redding Needs Your Help to Stay in School

With ongoing dialogue about rising tuition costs and dwindling job opportunities for students, Hampton University nursing student Kameron Redding is using social media to appeal for support of his dream to become a doctor.

Family Dollar Poised to Save Morris Brown?

Multiple outlets in and around Atlanta are reporting that Morris Brown College has filed a $20 million dollar bankruptcy plan in federal court, outlining details that would save much of the campus’ physical plant and operations, but yielding a portion of land to its potential corporate partner, Family Dollar. From Creative Loafing: Atlanta:

The deal, which will be defended in court on August 1, would pay off Morris Brown’s creditors to the tune of $7.5 million. Another $7.5 million would be used to pay bond holders of the properties FD LLC plans to purchase – including Middleton Twin Towers dormitory; Jordan Hall; a portion of Herndon Stadium; and a parking lot located between Mitchell Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. The other $5 million would go toward the school’s operating costs after bankruptcy, which is key in the school’s quest to secure new accreditation from Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools.

Officials from Morris Brown have not commented publicly on details of the plan, but residents in the area are concerned that the plan will allow for unwanted commercial development in the area. Details about the bankruptcy plan come weeks after MBC trustees rejected a proposal from Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reid, a $10 million offer to MBC to pay off the college’s debts, but calling for the school to relinquish many of its physical assets.




Howard Deans Concerned About ‘Fiscal Mismanagement’

Howard-University-logoDeans at Howard University have publicly expressed disapproval of the university’s financial management, according to a recent story in the Washington Post.  The university’s Council of Deans recently wrote to Board Chairman Addison Rand to express concern with dwindling research spending, staff cuts and tuition increases that they say have put the university in jeopardy on several fronts. From the Post:

“We believe this direction places the very survival of the University at risk,” the deans wrote in the June 6 letter addressed to Howard trustees.

Howard President Sidney A. Ribeau rejected the allegations, saying the university is making tough decisions to secure its future and remains in strong shape.

“There is not any kind of mismanagement administratively or financially that is damaging the university,” Ribeau said in an interview Saturday. “Unequivocally.”

The letter comes just weeks after the publishing of a letter from Howard Board Vice-Chairwoman Renee’ Higginbotham Brooks, scolding the board and warning of potential closure without removal of leadership and correction of its fiscal planning.




State of Alabama Increases Funding for Tuskegee

signing group shot

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley earlier this month signed legislation that will increase public funding to Tuskegee University by 14 percent. The funding will be used for development of TU’s academic profile, with specific support for its agricultural and cooperative extension programs.

The increase will total more than $9 million.




Redskins Receiver Josh Morgan Supports Washington UNCF with ‘Party with a Purpose’

Get your tickets here.

Johnson C. Smith Receives $600K to Fund S.T.E.M. Scholarships

Johnson C. Smith University, one of the emerging historically black colleges in the training of professionals in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics industries, has received more than $600,000 from the National Science Foundation for student scholarships in the STEM majors.

The scholarships will help 96 students close gaps in funding for tuition. From the release:

“We know that college affordability continues to be a challenge for underrepresented minorities in STEM,” said Dawn McNair, principal investigator for the  NSF S-STEM ASPIRE Program. “Because of the financial challenges that exist, students often pursue other means of financial support. Some may  work fulltime while juggling  a full STEM course load. Others may stop attending for short periods in order to make enough money to pay tuition, transfer to another institution or drop out altogether.”