Backgrounder: The Biden-Harris Administration’s Historic Investments and Support for Historically Black Colleges and Universities


Historically, Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have a proud history and a legacy of success. In the face of discrimination against Black Americans by many institutions of higher education, HBCUs have fostered academic excellence and created pathways to opportunity for black students in our nation. HBCUs vary in size and academic focus and serve a range of diverse students and communities in urban, rural and suburban settings.

HBCU graduates are leaders in all fields and include government officials, scientists, artists, lawyers, engineers, educators, and barrier-breaking business owners. Several HBCU graduates hold leadership positions in the Biden-Harris administration, including Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement Cedric Richmond, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency Michael Regan and Vice President Kamala Harris – the first HBCU graduate to serve as Vice President of the United States.

Despite this record of success, disparities in resources and opportunities for HBCUs and their students persist, and the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted continuing and new challenges for HBCUs. In order to promote our shared prosperity and advance equity for all Americans, the Biden-Harris administration has prioritized and provided historic levels of investment and support to the HCBUs. These actions include:

Historic investments in historically black colleges and universities (HBCU)

  • American rescue plan. The US bailout has provided over $ 4 billion in aid funds to HBCUs, including approximately $ 1.6 billion in debt relief to 45 HBCUs (13 public institutions and 32 private institutions) more early this year.
  • Grant funding for fiscal year 21. In FY21, the Department of Education provided a total of $ 1 billion to build the capacity of institutions that serve large numbers of students of color and low-income students. $ 500 million of this funding went directly to the HBCUs.
  • Budget request for fiscal year 22. The President’s Budget for FY22 requests a total of $ 887 million for HBCU specific funding in Title III funds of the Higher Education Act (HEA), an increase of $ 247 million compared to last year’s level. This would triple the Department of Education’s mandatory Title III funding, for a total of $ 252 million. Mandatory Title III funds provide formula grants to all HBCUs to invest in capacity building initiatives and student success programs. The President’s budget request includes funding for research opportunities in HBCUs, laboratories, IT infrastructure, STEM workforce development programs, and Department of Justice funding for the programs. the law on violence against women in HBCUs, among other priorities.
  • Funding for the quality of teachers. As part of the FY22 budget request and the Build Back Better plan, President Biden proposed $ 60 million for the Augustus Hawkins Centers of Excellence program to support teacher preparation programs at HBCUs and institutions. serving minorities (MSI).

Strengthening the White House initiative on HBCUs

  • In September, President Biden signed an executive order to reinstate the White House initiative on promoting equity, excellence and economic opportunity in education through the HBCUs and issued a proclamation recognizing HBCU National Week.
  • Presidential Executive Order calls for a whole-of-government approach to help HBCUs respond to and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and strengthen HBCUs in several ways, including removing barriers and improving access to federal funding and other programs, particularly in the areas of research and development.
  • The College specifically directs senior officials in the Executive Office of the President and the Office of the Vice President to consult and collaborate with the Policy Priorities Initiative for HBCUs.
  • Federal agencies must submit plans by February 1 of each year to describe how they increase HBCUs’ access to federal programs and improve federal recruiting activities in HBCUs to create pathways to federal employment.
  • During HBCU Week, President Biden also appointed Tony Allen, President of Delaware State University, to chair the President’s Advisory Council on HBCUs. The board of directors, originally created by the Carter administration, is intended to engage key stakeholders in areas such as education, business and philanthropy to advance the goals of the HBCU initiative.

Provide ongoing support to HBCUs through the Build Back Better plan

  • The President’s Build Back Better plan would provide tuition grants to students attending HBCUs with a family income of less than $ 125,000. It would also offer a free community college to students attending any of the 11 HBCUs that are also community colleges.
  • Build Back Better also includes a $ 5 billion increase in funding for HEA Titles III and V, which can be used by HBCUs, Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) and MSIs to strengthen their academic, administrative capacity. and fiscal, including creating or expanding educational programs in high demand areas (eg, STEM, informatics, nursing, and allied health care). Build Back Better would spend an additional $ 2 billion to create a pool of skilled healthcare workers graduating from HBCUs, TCUs and MSIs.
  • Recognizing the historic underfunding of HBCUs and other institutions that serve large numbers of students of color, the president’s plan would also invest $ 40 billion in modernizing research infrastructure, half of which would be reserved for HBCUs, TCU and MSI.
  • The president also proposed to create a new national climate-focused laboratory that would be affiliated with an HBCU.



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