The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) has issued a call-for-action for additional funding for Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) that were forced to abruptly end or quickly transition classes online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The persistent federal underfunding of HSIs and Hispanic higher education remains a major impediment. HSIs receive 68 cents for every dollar going to all other colleges and universities annually, per student, from all federal funding sources, to educate a disproportionately low-income student population.
HACU urges the leadership of the appropriations and budget committees of the U.S. House of Representatives to support funding for HSIs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a letter sent to the Congress, HACU requested the following for HSIs:
- $625 million of additional funding for all HSI federal grant programs under the Higher Education Act, including: Title III, Part F and Title V, Parts A and B; under the Farm Bill, the USDA-NIFA HSIs Education Grant Program; and the National Science Foundation’s HSIs Program.
- The creation of a new $10 billion loan-guarantee program for HSIs’ capital financing with an annual interest rate of zero (0.0) percent to equip HSIs to respond effectively to the COVID-19 pandemic by enhancing research facilities to support and advance scientific and community-based research, support research aimed at the prevention and abatement of epidemics, and increase broadband infrastructure and distance learning for the diverse and needy student populations that HSIs enroll.
HSIs have been historically underfunded and are now presented with the realities of implementing a seamless transition for faculty, staff, and students without the necessary resources. Federal funding for these schools is more important than ever to ensure that we can prepare today’s students for tomorrow’s jobs.
Antonio R. Flores, president of the HACU said to High County News, “Because these institutions are seriously underfunded by the federal government, they are not as prepared to cope with a crisis like this, in terms of having the best digital infrastructure, connectivity and so forth. They have to scramble to put together platforms for online teaching. Instructors might not be up to par in terms of teaching online, and some of the students might even be challenged taking courses online, in terms of having access to the best technology and bandwidth. Just in terms of overall infrastructure and capacity to respond to a crisis like this, HSIs just don’t have the reserves to use to pay for things that need to be used in lieu of regular campus life.”