STATEMENT: Passage of Bill Funding Minority-Serving Institutions Is Long Overdue
Washington, D.C. — Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an amended version of the FUTURE Act, bipartisan legislation that will benefit 20 million Americans applying for federal financial aid, students of color, and borrowers. The legislation permanently funds historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and other minority-serving institutions (MSIs), simplifies the Federal Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and streamlines income-based repayment. The bill now includes the Faster Access to Federal Student Aid Act, which allows for data-sharing between the Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Department of Education. Ben Miller, vice president for Postsecondary Education at the Center for American Progress, released the following statement after the bill’s passage:
This critical change is a much-needed, more student-centered approach to the cumbersome processes of applying for financial aid, overcoming the hurdles of verification, and navigating income-based student loan repayment plans. The bill will notably address a major paperwork flaw in administering income-driven student loan repayment plans—plans that more than 8 million students depend on to repay more than $480 million in student loan debt. Students will no longer have to go through burdensome paperwork hurdles to apply for and recertify the income-based repayment plans they need in order to afford their postsecondary education.
While we applaud Congress for reaching a deal to ensure that HBCUs and MSIs are not left without the funding they deserve, these funds should have been made permanent before they were set to expire. This effort also cannot replace a comprehensive reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA) that must make real progress on affordability and accountability while also doing more to improve equity in postsecondary education, including through greater support for these institutions.
Congress should protect, not debate, the funding for these critical institutions that need more robust financial support to meet the needs of American students. The FUTURE Act brings us one step closer to overhauling the HEA to improve educational quality and student outcomes.
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