House Committee Highlights Needed Federal Investments for HSI and MSI Institutions

By Hugh T. Ferguson, NASFAA Senior Staff Reporter

The House Education and Labor Committee convened a subcommittee hearing on Wednesday to discuss investments needed for both Hispanic-serving institutions (HSIs) and minority-serving institutions (MSIs) that will best enable these institutions to serve their students.

The conversation by members of the Higher Education and Workforce Investment Subcommittee followed President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address on Tuesday night, and served as a part of a series of hearings held by the committee to explore the needs of underserved students.

Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.), chairwoman of the subcommittee, used her opening remarks to address recent threats to historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and underscored the need to receive continued briefings detailing ongoing investigations into hate crimes and ensure that those institutions receive support they need to stay open and safe.

In focusing on the day’s hearing, Wilson detailed the ways in which MSIs are often underfunded and sought to garner insight from witnesses as to how Congress can best help meet their needs. 

Rep. Marianette Miller-Meeks (R-Iowa), the ranking member of the subcommittee, discussed the important contributors to the postsecondary landscape that MSIs and HSIs offer students, remarking how these programs serve as engines of upward mobility and stressing how valuable the programs are to first-generation college students.

Miller-Meeks used her remarks to encourage institutions to develop more relationships with the private sector, target their programmatic investments to help drive down tuition costs, and urged Congress to take a more active role in holding institutions accountable to their students.

“We must reform the Higher Education Act to ensure institutions take more responsibility for the outcomes of their students,” she said.

During remarks, Rep. Virginia Fox (R-N.C.), ranking member of the full committee, brought up the issue of student debt, seeking to underscore that higher education is financially achievable for students. She also argued that income-driven repayment plans can offer students more affordable repayment options.

Members also highlighted how students are facing unmet need, with the purchasing power of the Pell Grant having significantly depreciated since its inception.

Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.), chairman of the full committee, discussed ongoing efforts to double the Pell Grant, which Scott said would still not fully restore the program’s purchasing power from the 1970s.

“We’re going to do the best we can to make sure those increases take place,” Scott said.

Scott also highlighted the need of Congress to help these institutions recover from the pandemic to enhance funding for these programs and highlighting the critical importance of congress to deliver support  that will ensure student safety and success.

Check out the full hearing and revisit previous committee action highlighting the role of HBCUs and investments needed. 


Publication Date: 3/3/2022

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