12.05.19

Senate Passes Bipartisan Deal to Fund Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority Serving Institutions

Senator Murray votes in favor of bipartisan deal to permanently fund HBCUs and minority serving institutions, after funding lapsed at the end of September

 

Deal amends Senator Jones’ FUTURE Act to include FAFSA Act, legislation that would simplify FAFSA and streamline income-driven repayment

 

Senator Murray: “I’m very hopeful we can build on this bipartisan progress we’ve seen so far as we continue working to reauthorize the Higher Education Act in a comprehensive way.”

 

**WATCH SENATOR MURRAY’S FULL REMARKS HERE**

 

Washington D.C.—Today, the Senate passed a bipartisan deal led by Senator Education Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Senators Doug Jones (D-AL), Chris Coons (D-DE), Tim Scott (R-SC), and Richard Burr (R-NC) to permanently fund History Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and minority-serving institutions (MSIs). The deal, which amended Senator Jones’ FUTURE Act, now includes the FAFSA Act, a bill that will simplify and streamline the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for 20 million American families and income-driven repayment for nearly 8 million borrowers by eliminating duplicative paperwork between the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Education. 

 

“While this funding should never have lapsed in the first place, I’m glad that we were able to reach a deal that provides minority-serving institutions with the certainty of funding they deserve—and I truly appreciate the work done on both sides of the aisle to get us to this point,” Senator Murray said. “By permanently extending funding for these valuable institutions and streamlining our student aid system, this deal is a win-win. Now, I look forward to continuing to work with my Republican colleagues on efforts to overhaul the Higher Education Act in a comprehensive, bipartisan way that does right by all students.”

 

Led by Senator Jones, Senate Democrats have been fighting for months to secure funding for the HBCUs and MSIs by calling for passage of the bipartisan, House-approved FUTURE Act, which would extend funding for HBCUs and MSIs for two years. Following months of Republican opposition, earlier this week, Senate education leaders reached a bipartisan deal to permanently extend funding for these critical universities with the savings from the FAFSA Act, legislation which passed the Senate unanimously last year. This deal would create the first and only permanent funding program—outside of Pell Grants and student loans—to support students and colleges.

 

“I’m also pleased this legislation streamlines federal student aid for more than 20 million students applying for aid, and nearly 8 million borrowers,” said Senator Murray in her remarks.  “Our nation’s outdated and overly complicated financial aid system is forcing students and student loan borrowers to jump through too many hoops to access federal financial aid, verify the tax returns they’ve already filled out, and to get help if they’re struggling to pay their student loans.”

 

Earlier today, Senator Murray thanked her colleagues for working together to reach this bipartisan deal on the Senate floor. Senator Murray also emphasized the continued need for bipartisan cooperation in order to pass a comprehensive reauthorization of the Higher Education Act that includes real answers to challenges students face on affordability, access, accountability and campus safety.

 

Full remarks below.

 

“Thank you, Madam President.”

 

“HBCUs, Tribal Colleges, and other minority-serving institutions – or MSIs – are an essential part of our higher education system. These institutions serve nearly six million undergraduate students, a large majority of whom are students of color or Native students.”

 

“Funding for these critical institutions should never be up for debate—and now, it won’t be.”

 

“I’m so glad we’ve have reached a bipartisan deal that will permanently fund HBCUs and MSIs.”

 

“I know many of our colleagues worked hard on this—but I especially want to recognize Senator Jones for his leadership in pushing to make sure this got done as well as Senator Alexander, and of course Senators Coons, Scott, and Burr.”

 

“I’m also pleased this legislation streamlines federal student aid for more than 20 million students applying for aid, and nearly 8 million borrowers.”

 

“Our nation’s outdated and overly complicated financial aid system is forcing students and student loan borrowers to jump through too many hoops to access federal financial aid, verify the tax returns they’ve already filled out, and to get help if they’re struggling to pay their student loans.”

 

“The FAFSA Act – which has been included in this bill – allows data to be securely shared between the IRS and the Department of Education, making it easier for students to fill out the FAFSA form and to pay their loans.”

 

“The bill will strengthen privacy protections and help students and borrowers navigate their financial aid through a streamlined, more efficient process.”

 

“This bill is also thanks to Jeff Appel, an integral member of Federal Student Aid who recently passed away. I’m grateful for his contribution and I know that he will be sorely missed.”

 

“Madam President, there’s one more way in which the agreement we’ve reached is important, too. This proves once again that we can work across the aisle and get things done, when we all stay focused squarely on what’s best for students.”

 

“We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us to make higher education in our country more affordable and accessible, to hold schools accountable for student outcomes, and to ensure students’ safety on campus.”

 

“So I’m very hopeful we can build on this bipartisan progress we’ve seen so far as we continue working to reauthorize the Higher Education Act in a comprehensive way.”

 

“Again I want to thank each of my colleagues for their work—and I look forward to more to come.”

 

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