Issues

Supporting Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Bernie Sanders is fully committed to strengthening Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

Established as institutions to educate African Americans during segregation, HBCUs continue to fill an important role in providing access to quality higher educational opportunities for African Americans.

At a time when American society is nominally more open but deeper patterns of racial hostility are belatedly being exposed and discussed, HBCUs have a major role to play. For many African American students, they are safer and more nurturing places. HBCUs remain the institutions that demonstrate the most effective ability to graduate African American students.

While the 105 HBCUs across America represent just three percent of the nation’s institutions of higher learning, they graduate nearly 20 percent of African Americans who earn undergraduate degrees.

Under Bernie’s College for All plan, everyone in America who has the desire and the ability will be able to receive a tuition free education at a public HBCU. All of the financial needs of the lowest income students attending public HBCUs would be met under Bernie’s plan.

Due to declining federal government financial support for HBCUs and because 51% of HBCU’s are public colleges, Senator Sanders’ plan will allow more students to attend the HBCU of their choice which will increase HBCU enrollment. According to the most recent statistics, 76% of students enrolled in HBCUs are enrolled at public HBCUs.

HBCUs disproportionately serve students facing the intersecting effects of wealth inequality, systematic K–12 disparities, and discrimination. For those reasons, Bernie’s plan permits low-income students to use federal, state and college financial aid to cover room and board, books and living expenses at all HBCUs.

Bernie’s plan will cut student loan interest rates almost in half for everyone who is enrolled in an HBCU.

His plan more than triples the federal work-study program at HBCUs to build valuable career experience that will help African American students after they graduate.

Bernie’s plan will allow everyone who has attended an HBCU to refinance student loans at today’s low interest rates.

Bernie understands that too many HBCUs have struggled financially in recent years from a lack of federal resources. That’s why he supports a dedicated $30 billion fund to support private non-profit HBCUs, minority serving institutions, and other non-profit schools to keep costs down and to provide a quality education.

Bernie’s plan is one that benefits the entire school and focuses on improving the school as a whole. The plan would not burden HBCUs with red tape or too much bureaucracy making it easier for these funds to get to schools and their students. Schools would be also able to use the money for multiple purposes, especially to reduce tuition and the cost of attending an HBCU.

To ensure that HBCUs are accountable for the funds received, Bernie’s plan provides rewards and continued funding for the best performing schools while providing program assistance to schools still trying to improve.

In addition, Bernie’s plan designates federal research funds for HBCUs that will 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.

Bernie’s higher education policy is also a jobs policy. Increasing the number of college graduates, especially college-educated African Americans, will ensure a higher skilled workforce that is ready to compete in the 21st century economy.

Bernie does not believe that we should unfairly punish HBCUs by fining them for their non-performing student loans.

Bernie’s plan ensures that we remain responsible for working with HBCUs to answer funding questions and help with the application process. In addition, Bernie’s plan will provide funding to increase staff at HBCUs to ensure that the government has the data it needs to measure the success of this program and its positive impact on HBCUs and their students.