NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University and the nation’s other historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) look to reap the benefits of federal legislation that permanently allocates $255 million to the institutions.
Last month, Congress passed the FUTURE Act to provide for the historic funding. TSU students and officials say the bill is critical to the viability of TSU and other HBCUs.
TSU President Glenda Glover commended Congress for passing the legislation and hopes it will lead to additional funding.
“The FUTURE Act legislation is a game changer for TSU, and the university is thankful to our Tennessee leadership of Senator Lamar Alexander, Representative Jim Cooper, Congressional Black Caucus members and others for their guidance to ensure the bill passed through both chambers,” says President Glover.
“I personally made calls to Sen. Alexander’s Office, advocating the need for HBCU funding because of the tremendous impact TSU has in changing the lives of our students, the community, state and nation. I also spoke regularly with other HBCU presidents and assisted advocacy groups United Negro College Fund, Thurgood Marshall College Fund and the National Association for Equal Opportunity in higher education in getting the bill passed. HBCUs have been traditionally underfunded on all levels of government.”
“TSU is fortunate to have relationships with local and state lawmakers that have resulted in much needed appropriations. I believe the FUTURE Act is the beginning of the tide changing in the amount, and types of funding HBCUs receive.”
The FUTURE Act not only provides permanent funds to HBCUs and other minority-serving institutions, but also simplifies the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and eliminates paperwork for income-driven student loan repayment plans.
“We believe it’s a really important piece of legislation,” says Amy Wood, assistant vice president for financial aid at TSU.
The legislation eliminates up to 22 questions on the FAFSA and allows the Internal Revenue Service to share applicants’ tax information directly with the U.S. Department of Education. It also automates income recertification for federal student loan borrowers who use income-based repayment plans.
“Being able to eliminate some of the processing time allows us more time to spend counseling students and ensuring that they have what they need,” adds Wood.
Mariah Rhodes, a junior at TSU majoring in political science, says she’s pleased the legislation may soon become law. It has been sent to the President, who is expected to sign it.
“HBCUs have produced some of the best African-American doctors, lawyers, politicians and engineers,” says Rhodes, a Memphis native who is an HBCU White House ambassador. “This money will help HBCUs in a tremendous way.”
Her mother agrees.
“They (HBCUs) are underfunded, and we need to really do something about that,” says Denise Woods.
TSU Dean of Students Frank Stevenson called the legislation a “game changer.”
“HBCUs are still seeing a number of first generation college students, and funding is really important to the success of these institutions that have done so much to move the needle toward equity and opportunity for higher education for students,” says Stevenson.
Last year, TSU received $2 million to support retention of academically high achieving students from underserved communities.
The funds were included in Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee’s budget during the latest legislative session, and approved by state lawmakers.
For more information about the FUTURE Act, visit https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/2486/text.
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About Tennessee State UniversityFounded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees. TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee. With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.