On April 2, the Department of Education announced the discharge of approximately $1.6 billion of debt at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) that participate in the HBCU Capital Financing Program. The Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, enacted in December 2020, provided authority and funding to discharge the debts under the HBCU Capital Financing Program, which has provided low-cost loans to finance and refinance infrastructure improvements at HBCUs since 1994. The full list of institutions receiving HBCU Capital Finance Debt discharges is available here.
Funding for HBCUs has been a top priority for advocates since the onset of the pandemic. “Our HBCUs have long been on an uneven playing field, financially, as compared to many other postsecondary institutions,” said Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona in the Department’s press release. The CARES Act and the American Rescue Plan deliver a combined sum of more than $5 billion reserved for HBCUs through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund program. President Biden’s recent infrastructure proposal, the American Jobs Act, also allocates $45 billion in research dollars to HBCUs. CGS continues to advocate for additional relief for institutions, especially funding that addresses the disproportionate effects the COVID-19 pandemic has had on minority serving institutions.
DOJ Clarifies Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Protected Under Title IX
Department of Education Initiates Title IX Review
In the coming weeks, OCR will hold a public hearing to gather input from the public on the issue of sexual harassment in school environments, including sexual violence, and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. OCR will use stakeholder insights to determine additional changes to the Title IX regulations, which could lead to revisions through a notice of proposed rulemaking. Individuals wishing to partake in the public hearing are instructed to monitor the Department of Education’s Newsroom webpage for upcoming details. A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is also anticipated following the review and public hearing.
Whilst under review, the Department’s current Title IX regulations will remain in effect. In the coming months, OCR will issue a Q&A document that will “provide additional clarity about how OCR interprets schools’ existing obligations under the 2020 amendments,” such as what authority schools and institutions have in implementing their own policies against sexual violence. More information is available through the Department’s press release.
NEH Announces Funding Opportunities for Cultural and Educational Institutions
Democrats Look to Reconciliation to Advance Infrastructure & Immigration Legislation
House Democrats are expected to include immigration provisions in their draft of the next reconciliation legislation. The provisions are expected to encompass policy included in two pieces of immigration legislation that the House passed in March: the American Dream and Promise Act (H.R. 6), which would provide a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers and those protected under Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Enforcement Departure, and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act (H.R. 1603). To secure Parliamentarian approval, the proposed immigration provisions would need to be framed as combatting budgetary impacts. Noting these impacts is necessary to fall in line with the Byrd rule, which obstructs non-budgetary provisions from reconciliation bills. CGS continues to work with lawmakers in a bipartisan fashion while advocating for a legislative solution that enables Dreamers and other non-citizens to overcome barriers preventing them from accessing graduate education in the U.S.