Supporting and Protecting HBCUs
Cory Booker is running for president to create opportunity for all Americans—especially communities that have been left out and left behind, like communities of color that have for centuries been deprived of wealth, opportunity, and their voices as citizens.
Cory believes that Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) play a central role in creating pathways to opportunity and empowering Black communities, and that’s why today he is outlining actions he will take as president to ensure that America’s HBCUs and MSIs are well-funded, affordable, and continue to deliver opportunity for Black and Brown Americans.
The fact that Cory is running for president of the United States is a testament to the vital role of HBCUs. Cory’s mother is a graduate of Fisk University, and his father, born into poverty and raised by a single mom, graduated from North Carolina Central University after members of his church sent around a collection plate to help him pay for his first semester.
The role HBCUs have played in Cory’s life is not unique. More than one in five Black Americans with a bachelor’s degree received their degree from an HBCU, and HBCUs are responsible for educating a majority of all Black teachers, doctors, judges, and engineers. Despite these contributions, they are challenged by significant under-investment and, as a result, endowments at HBCUs are at least 70 percent smaller than endowments at non-HBCUs.
Cory’s plan for HBCUs and MSIs would:
- Ensure that HBCUs and MSIs are able to provide a world-class education in world-class facilities. Cory would:
- Build on the investments of the Future Act by investing an additional $30 billion in competitively-awarded grants by the Department of Education to enable HBCUs and MSIs to expand and improve STEM education and help with recruitment, retention, and graduation rates. Importantly, an investment of this scale would provide schools the security of funding for years to come, avoiding a situation where STEM funding for HBCUs can be held hostage by Congressional Republicans seeking leverage to push their legislative agenda.
- Provide $30 billion in grants to upgrade infrastructure, including facilities and technology, at HBCUs and MSIs to ensure all students have access to a world-class education in world-class facilities.
- Build on his bill, the HBCU Capital Financing Improvement Act, which would allow more institutions to access financing to improve or construct classrooms, libraries, laboratories, dormitories, instructional equipment, and research instrumentation. Cory would also double the total amount of loans available through the HBCU Capital Financing Program.
- Put HBCUs at the center of the fight against climate change. Cory will require that at least 10 percent of his $400 billion 50-State Climate Moonshot Hubs are based in HBCUs and MSIs. Each hub would be focused on reasserting our global leadership in Research and Development (R&D) and leading the way in tackling the most important challenges in basic science, applied research, manufacturing, and commercialization.
- Expand collaboration between HBCUs and federal agencies. Cory would:
- Sign into law the Parren Mitchell Minority Business Education and Empowerment Act, a bill proposed by former Rep. Elijah Cummings that would require the SBA to collaborate with HBCUs to establish Small Business Development Centers and develop entrepreneurship curricula.
- Fight to pass the HBCU PARTNERS Act, which would direct federal agencies to make a concerted effort to support HBCU participation in federal programs and grants.
- Make college affordable for all Americans. Cory would:
- Fight to pass the Debt-Free College Act, which would help students who attend public colleges, HBCUs, or MSIs graduate without debt by providing public funding to cover the full cost of college, including tuition, fees, and living expenses.
- Double the value of Pell Grants from $6,200 to $12,400, which about three in four students at HBCUs rely upon, and ensure that Dreamers are eligible to receive them. He would also fight to pass the Restoring Education and Learning Act to extend eligibility to incarcerated individuals. And, Cory would require that HBCUs and MSIs make up 10 percent of higher education institutions in the Second Chance Pell Grant Program.
- Work with Congress to pass the What You Can Do for Your Country Act, which would strengthen and expand the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program that provides debt cancellation to those who enter public service like teachers, social workers, public defenders and those who serve in the military. Borrowers would have their student debt cut in half after five years in public service and receive full debt forgiveness after 10 years in public service. Cory will also fight for his STRIVE Act, which would forgive loans for teachers incrementally and provide full forgiveness after seven years.
- Forgive student loan debt for low-income students who are struggling to repay their debt and for those who received degrees from failed for-profit colleges.
- Make it easier to apply for student aid by simplifying the FAFSA for low-income students who qualify for other programs, as in his Simplifying Financial Aid for Students Act. He would also make the FAFSA more accessible for all by removing the prior drug conviction question on the FAFSA.
- Ensure access to affordable child care at HBCUs, community colleges, and other MSIs and invest in the child care workforce by passing his Preparing and Resourcing Our Student Parents and Early Childhood Teachers (PROSPECT) Act, which provides grants to MSIs and community colleges for student parents who need child care and invests in infant and toddler educators.
In addition to the most comprehensive plan to support our HBCUs, Cory has put forward a set of proposals to close the racial wealth gap and create opportunity in Black and Brown communities. One of his signature proposals, “Baby Bonds,” would give every child in America a savings account of up to $50,000 to use for things like higher education, purchasing a home, or starting a business—the kinds of investments that change life trajectories. A study by Columbia University found that Baby Bonds virtually erases the racial wealth gap among young adults and gives every American a shot at economic opportunity.
Cory has also put forward a sweeping plan to reverse decades of exploitation and create economic opportunity in Black and Brown communities, including through the creation of a Community Justice Fund, a historic new effort singularly focused on restoring wealth in traditionally marginalized communities. In addition, his Opportunity and Justice for Workers plan lays out a bold vision for an economy that works for all, including a massive expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit, provisions for closing the gender pay gap, ensuring universal paid family leave, and putting high-quality, affordable child care within reach.