WATCH: Building the movement for health care justice

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WATCH: Building the movement for health care justice

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Supporting HBCUs and MSIs

Issues

Supporting Historically Black Colleges & Universities and Minority Serving Institutions

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) were established at a time when segregation was the law of the land in the United States. In the decades since the 1964 Civil Rights Act, HBCUs have continued to serve an integral role in African American education. Other Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) educate a disproportionate number of students who are the first in their families to attend college and serve 40 percent of underrepresented students. As President, I will make historic investments in HBCUs and MSIs to strengthen and support those institutions and create environments for future generations of graduates to thrive.

Bernie Signature

Key Points

  • Make all public and private HBCUs, tribal colleges, and many MSIs tuition-free
  • Invest $10 billion to create and expand HBCU medical, dental, and teacher training graduate programs 
  • Invest $5 billion in HBCU infrastructure grants and cancel all institutional HBCU loan debt from the Capital Financing Program
  • Double Title III and Title V funds to decrease the funding gap between HBCUs and MSIs and predominantly white institutions
  • Issue an Executive Order that strengthens the White House Initiative on HBCUs to eliminate racial disparities in our college education system

Details

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) were established at a time when segregation was the law of the land in the United States. In the decades since the 1964 Civil Rights Act, HBCUs have continued to serve an integral role in African American education. While the 101 HBCUs across America represent just three percent of the nation’s colleges and universities, they graduate nearly 20 percent of African Americans who earn undergraduate degrees. HBCU graduates account for 40 percent of African American Members of Congress, 40 percent of African American engineers, 50 percent of African American professors at non-HBCUs, 50 percent of African American lawyers, and 80 percent of African American judges.

Other Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) educate a disproportionate number of students who are the first in their families to attend college and serve 40 percent of underrepresented students. As President, Bernie will make historic investments in HBCUs and MSIs to strengthen and support those institutions and create environments for future generations of graduates to thrive.

Tuition and Debt-Free Education at an HBCU or a MSI

In the twenty-first century, a free public education system that goes from kindergarten through high school is no longer good enough. If we are to succeed as a nation, public colleges and universities must be tuition free. Higher education should be a right for all, not a privilege for the few. Bernie’s College for All plan will allow any student to receive a tuition-free education from any HBCU, including private institutions, regardless of income.

College for All addresses the most crucial problem many financially impaired HBCUs face: low or decreased enrollment. For many Black individuals and people of color from low-income families, the cost of a college education can be an insurmountable barrier to enrollment. The promise of an education without the obstacle of tuition and fees will allow more students to attend the HBCU of their choice and increase HBCU enrollment across the country.

Bernie will go beyond covering tuition and fees. HBCUs and MSIs disproportionately serve students facing the compounding challenges of wealth and income inequality, systematic disparities in K-12 education, and discrimination. Bernie will expand Pell Grants by enabling students from low-income families to use aid to cover room and board, books, and living expenses.

Student hunger is an epidemic on college campuses. Nearly half of students experienced food insecurity within the past year, and Black students are 19 percent more likely to experience hunger than white students. Bernie will remove barriers for college students to access nutrition assistance benefits by stripping the program of work requirements. This will have a larger impact on students of color, who are disproportionately impacted by food insecurity.

When Bernie is in the White House, he will:

  • Pass the College for All Act to provide at least $48 billion per year to eliminate tuition and fees at four-year public colleges and universities, tribal colleges, community colleges, trade schools, and apprenticeship programs.
  • Provide $1.3 billion to private, nonprofit HBCUs and MSIs per year to eliminate or significantly reduce tuition and fees. This funding would support some 200 schools which serve at least 35 percent low-income students.
  • Expand Pell Grants to cover the non-tuition and fee costs of school, including housing, books, supplies, transportation, and other costs of living.
  • Triple funding for the Work-Study Program to reach more than 2 million students and ensure funding targets schools that have large low-income student enrollment.
  • Remove barriers to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits for college students, increase benefits, broaden eligibility, and remove punitive work requirements.
  • Require participating states and tribes to cover the full cost of obtaining a degree for low-income students by covering any gap that may still exist after eliminating tuition, fees, and grants.
  • Match any additional spending from states and tribes which reduces the cost of attending school at a dollar for dollar rate. This funding goes beyond closing the cost gap – participating states and tribes could use this money to hire additional faculty, ensure professors get professional development opportunities, and increase students’ access to educational opportunities.
  • Cap student loan interest rates at 1.88 percent.

Create and Expand HBCU, MSI, and Tribal College Teacher Training Programs

Only 7 percent of public school teachers are Black despite making up 13 percent of the country’s population. Black students who have at least one Black teacher for a single year between kindergarten and 3rd grade perform better in math and reading. Students of color who have at least one teacher of color by third grade are more likely to graduate from high school and enroll in college.

In America today, only 20 percent of public school teachers are nonwhite, and with minority students comprising a majority in our public schools, the gap is growing. Trump’s racist and disastrous decision to end the DACA program only widens this gap: close to 20,000 public K-12 teachers could lose their jobs and be forced to leave their homes.

When Bernie is President, we will make historic investments in public education and reduce the shortage of Black teachers by investing in teacher-training programs at HBCUs and MSIs. This will ensure that Black teachers more likely to enter underserved communities are able to receive advanced degrees and address disparities in our education system. We will invest in the education, training, mentorship, residencies, and hiring of teachers of color to diversify the public school teacher workforce.

When Bernie is in the White House, he will:

  • Establish a dedicated fund of $5 billion to create and expand teacher-training programs at HBCUs, MSIs and tribal colleges and universities to increase educator diversity.
  • Provide $5 billion to programs that increase recruitment, retention, and professional development of diverse K-12 teachers.

Create and Expand HBCU, MSI, and Tribal College Medical and Dental Programs

Racial inequities exist throughout our country’s healthcare system. Black Americans represent 13 percent of the total U.S. population and although the number of Black graduates has increased in all other fields, only 4 percent of physicians are Black. A recent Health Affairs study found that in order to reach parity for dentists among racial groups, the U.S. needs to educate and train 19,714 Black dentists.

Nationally, the number of Black men enrolling in medical school in 2014 was lower than it was in the late 1970s. Black female doctors only represent a mere 2 percent of all doctors, and Black nurses make up less than 10 percent of the 3.2 million registered nurses in the U.S.

Bernie understands that we must not only guarantee health care to all as a right, but end the long-standing racial disparities which exist within the health care system. We will address the maternal mortality crisis impacting Black women who are three and a half times more likely to die from pregnancy than white women. We must fight these disparities by increasing the likeliness that Black patients will have health care providers and servicers that look like them and relate to their cultural and life experiences firsthand. Far too many Black Americans have died as a result of these injustices and there is no time to wait for racial justice in our health care practices.

A key way to address the long-standing racial disparities that exist within America’s health care workforce is by educating more Black medical providers at institutions that have a proven track-record. More than 80 percent of African American doctors and dentists throughout U.S. history received their education at Howard University and Meharry Medical College – the country’s two oldest HBCU medical schools.

When Bernie is President, we will increase the number of Black doctors, dentists, nurses, and mental health providers who can provide the care that is so desperately needed in their communities.

When Bernie is in the White House, he will:

  • Establish a dedicated fund of $5 billion to create and expand medical and dental provider training programs at HBCUs, MSIs and tribal colleges and universities to help end the shortage of minority doctors, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, dentists, dental hygienists, psychologists, and other medical providers.
  • Address underrepresentation in critical fields by designating federal research funds for HBCUs to increase the number of student-led and faculty-driven research conducted at HBCUs that advances basic scientific ideas in the STEM fields of science, technology, energy and mathematics, as well as healthcare.
  • Establish a dedicated fund to create and expand mentorship and academic advising for undergraduate HBCU and MSI students studying to attend medical and dental schools.
  • Significantly expand the National Health Service Corps and Teaching Health Centers to bring more doctors and nurses of color to underserved areas. This includes expanding the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education program, the Nurse Practitioner Residency Training Program, and the Nurse Faculty Loan Program to develop the workforce we need.

Increase Funding and Support for HBCUs and MSIs

HBCUs and MSIs equip marginalized students with quality, first-rate skills and experiences. Students at HBCUs are more likely to be first-generation college students, which often means they rely more on Pell Grants and other forms of financial aid to pursue higher education. Importantly, low-income students who attend HBCUs are more successful at moving up the mobility ladder than their low-income counterparts at predominantly white institutions.

Federal funding for HBCUs has been nearly cut in half between 2003 and 2015. HBCUs and MSIs depend heavily on federal and state funding, tuition, and fees to operate, leaving them vulnerable when funding or enrollment declines. Without consistent and adequate funding from the government, HBCUs and MSIs are more reliant on tuition and fees, a reliance that harms low-income students who make up a significant portion of students, and roughly 75 percent of students at HBCUs rely on Pell Grants.

It is critical that we increase funding for critical programs that benefit HBCUs and MSIs. Title III and Title V grant programs help decrease the funding gap between HBCUs and MSIs and predominantly white institutions. Title III initiatives include the Strengthening HBCUs and Strengthening Historically Black Graduate Institution (HBGI) grant programs. The Title V grant program provides funding for Hispanic-Serving Institutions.

When Bernie is in the White House, he will:

  • Double funding of Title III and Title V programs that benefit HBCUs and MSIs to decrease the funding gap between predominantly white institutions and other institutions.
  • Ensure equal pay for equal work by addressing the pay disparity between HBCU staff and faculty in comparison to employees at neighboring institutions.
  • Ensure every HBCU can establish and maintain TRIO and GEAR UP programs by doubling funding for the programs. This will allow more low-income students, students with disabilities, and first-generation students can attend and graduate college with a degree. By increasing our investment in these programs, we will reach 1.5 million students through TRIO programs and more than 100,000 additional students through GEAR UP than the program reaches today.
  • Provide $1 billion for HBCU 1890 Land-Grant Institutions Programs, which provide grants, scholarships, and support for research, extension, and teaching programs at HBCUs for food and agricultural sciences.
  • Protect HBCUs and MSIs from institutional risk-sharing and the penalties of cohort default rates (CDR).

Issue an Executive Order that Strengthens the White House Initiative on HBCUs to Eliminate Racial Disparities

As president, Bernie will not wait for congressional action to support HBCUs. He will issue an executive order that bolsters the role of the HBCU White House Initiative in addressing racial disparities in higher education attainment. A key role of the HBCU White House Initiative will be identifying ways to prevent future HBCU closures.

When Bernie is in the White House, he will:

  • Task the White House Initiative on HBCUs (WHIHBCU) with publishing a report that investigates the financial and cultural losses of HBCU closures on communities. The WHIHBCU will also advise approaches to address the impacts of HBCU closures on communities and work to prevent future closures.
  • Task the WHIHBCU and Department of Education with conducting a federal review of all college accreditation processes to ensure they account for the unique cultural circumstances of people who attend HBCUs and MSIs.
  • Enforce current law that requires federal agencies and departments to establish research partnerships with HBCUs.
  • Ensure there are top level officials employed by the Department of Education who have previous HBCU experience.

Invest in HBCU Infrastructure and Cancel All Institutional HBCU Loan Debt from the Capital Financing Program

HBCUs have endured limited access to the capital they need due to lower enrollment rates, smaller endowments, and racist lending practices. The HBCU Capital Financing Program was created to curtail these systemic disadvantages by helping HBCUs acquire low-interest loans for campus infrastructure improvements. This program has aided many schools as they work to update their infrastructure. However, implementing a robust grant program dedicated to modernizing infrastructure on the campuses of HBCUs will better promote the invaluable roles these institutions serve in their communities. This grant program will extend aid to more institutions at higher amounts than what the current Capital Financing Program allows.

It is imperative that we provide HBCUs with fair financing to ensure these institutions have the modern infrastructure they need to produce a high-quality education. As President, Bernie will cancel all outstanding institutional debt from the HBCU Capital Financing Program and provide grant funds for HBCUs to invest in resilient, green, and innovative infrastructure.

When Bernie is in the White House, he will:

  • Cancel the $1.6 billion existing HBCU loan debt from the Capital Financing Program.
  • Create a $5 billion fund dedicated to providing capital improvement and infrastructure grants to HBCUs.

Second Chance Pell Partnerships Between HBCUs and Correctional Facilities

Bernie firmly believes the right to a quality education is a human right that must be guaranteed to everyone in the United States, regardless of immigration status or history of incarceration.

Since the Second Chance Pell pilot program launched in 2016 to award Pell Grants to incarcerated individuals, approximately 1,000 students have completed post-secondary certificates or graduated with degrees. Prison education is proven to decrease recidivism and create opportunities for people after prison.

We must end racist equity gaps in higher education attainment by ensuring all students, including inmates, receive the support they need to enroll and complete college. When Bernie is president, we will pass his Justice and Safety for All Plan and invest in jobs, schools and education, not more jails and incarceration.

When Bernie is in the White House, he will:

  • Expand Pell Grant eligibility to currently incarcerated individuals and undocumented students.
  • Use Second Chance Pell to establish opportunities for HBCUs to partner with correctional facilities and provide instruction to inmates.

Make HBCUs and MSIs a Key Partner in Combating Climate Change

There is no doubt that the poor and marginalized suffer from the impacts of pollution and climate disruption — particularly communities of color. They are at the frontlines of the climate emergency. For example, of the 73 waste-burning incinerators across the United States, an astounding 79 percent are located within three miles of low-income and minority neighborhoods, which are exposed to mercury, lead, and soot.

As president, Bernie Sanders will launch the decade of the Green New Deal, a ten-year, nationwide mobilization centered around justice and equity during which climate change will be factored into virtually every area of policy, from immigration to trade to foreign policy and beyond.

The Green New Deal is not only a serious climate plan, but an opportunity to uproot historical injustices and inequities to advance social, racial, and economic justice, including redressing the exclusion of Black, brown, Native American, and other vulnerable communities from the programs that made up the original New Deal.

As part of this effort, we will ensure HBCUs and MSIs are central to our effort to to fully decarbonize the economy.

When Bernie is in the White House, he will:

  • Establish Green New Deal Innovation Programs at HBCU and MSI scientific, agricultural, and technology research departments to ensure dedicated funding from the more than $650 billion in research and development investments in the Green New Deal.

Cancel All Student Loan Debt

A staggering 75 percent of private and 70 percent of public HBCU undergraduates have student loan debt. Additionally, HBCU alumni leave with higher loans in comparison to individuals who graduate from other schools. Based on 2017 data, the median federal-debt amount for those who attended HBCUs is 32 percent greater than those who graduated from other public four-year colleges. The same data shows that the majority of HBCU graduates have yet to start paying on their original loan balance in the first few years after leaving college.

Black families on average have less wealth than white families and many other groups due to the generational effects of systemic racism. Just as segregation and redlining reinforced the racial wealth gap for decades, the current student debt crisis is a major driver of economic inequality between racial groups. Black students take out loans at a higher rate to pay for school and graduate with more student debt than their white counterparts, and racial income disparities that persist in the workforce cause Black people to take longer paying loans off while also paying more interest. The gender wage gap in conjunction with the racial wealth gap makes Black women the most impacted demographic by the student debt crisis. Moreover, Black women hold the highest percentages of student debt. Bernie’s proposal to cancel all student loan debt would cut the racial wealth gap for young Americans by more than half – from 12:1 to 5:1.

When Bernie is in the White House, he will:

  • Enact College for All to cancel the entire $1.6 trillion in outstanding student debt for the 45 million borrowers who are weighed down by the crushing burden of student debt. This will save around $3,000 a year for the average student loan borrower.
  • Protect HBCUs and MSIs from institutional risk-sharing and the penalties of cohort default rates (CDR). By eliminating all student debt, we will allow HBCUs to reallocate limited institutional resources to important initiatives other than vigorous loan default prevention agendas.