Sen. Cory Booker Reveals $100B Plan to Invest in HBCUs - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise magazine Fall 2019 issue

According to The Hill, presidential hopeful Cory Booker has put forth a $100 billion plan to invest in historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).

Booker is a current New Jersey senator (since 2013) who previously served as the 36th Mayor of Newark, New Jersey, from 2006 to 2013. He is currently running to become the second black president of the United States.

Sen. Booker has outlined his HBCUs and MSIs plan:

Ensure that HBCUs and MSIs (minority-serving institutions) are able to provide a world-class education in world-class facilities:

  • Build on the investments of the Future Act by investing an additional $30 billion in competitively-awarded grants by the Department of Education to enable HBCUs and MSIs to expand and improve STEM education and help with recruitment, retention, and graduation rates. Importantly, an investment of this scale would provide schools the security of funding for years to come, avoiding a situation where STEM funding for HBCUs can be held hostage by Congressional Republicans seeking leverage to push their legislative agenda. 
  • Provide $30 billion in grants to upgrade infrastructure, including facilities and technology, at HBCUs and MSIs to ensure all students have access to a world-class education in world-class facilities.
  • Build on his bill, the HBCU Capital Financing Improvement Act, which would allow more institutions to access financing to improve or construct classrooms, libraries, laboratories, dormitories, instructional equipment, and research instrumentation. Cory would also double the total amount of loans available through the HBCU Capital Financing Program.     

Related: Dell Technologies Builds Tech Pipeline for Black and Latinx Students

Put HBCUs at the center of the fight against climate change:

  • Booker will require that at least 10% of his $400 billion 50-State Climate Moonshot Hubs are based in HBCUs and MSIs. Each hub would be focused on reasserting our global leadership in Research and Development (R&D) and leading the way in tackling the most important challenges in basic science, applied research, manufacturing, and commercialization.

Expand collaboration between HBCUs and federal agencies:

  • Sign into law the Parren Mitchell Minority Business Education and Empowerment Act, a bill proposed by former Rep. Elijah Cummings that would require the SBA to collaborate with HBCUs to establish Small Business Development Centers and develop entrepreneurship curricula. 
  • Fight to pass the HBCU PARTNERS Act, which would direct federal agencies to make a concerted effort to support HBCU participation in federal programs and grants.

Make college affordable for all Americans:

  • Fight to pass the Debt-Free College Act, which would help students who attend public colleges, HBCUs, or MSIs graduate without debt by providing public funding to cover the full cost of college, including tuition, fees, and living expenses.
  • Double the value of Pell Grants from $6,200 to $12,400, which about three in four students at HBCUs rely upon, and ensure that Dreamers are eligible to receive them. He would also fight to pass the Restoring Education and Learning Act to extend eligibility to incarcerated individuals. And, Cory would require that HBCUs and MSIs make up 10% of higher education institutions in the Second Chance Pell Grant Program.
  • Work with Congress to pass the What You Can Do for Your Country Act, which would strengthen and expand the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program that provides debt cancellation to those who enter public service like teachers, social workers, public defenders and those who serve in the military. Borrowers would have their student debt cut in half after five years in public service and receive full debt forgiveness after 10 years in public service. Cory will also fight for his STRIVE Act, which would forgive loans for teachers incrementally and provide full forgiveness after seven years.
  • Forgive student loan debt for low-income students who are struggling to repay their debt and for those who received degrees from failed for-profit colleges. 
  • Make it easier to apply for student aid by simplifying the FAFSA for low-income students who qualify for other programs, as in his Simplifying Financial Aid for Students Act. He would also make the FAFSA more accessible for all by removing the prior drug conviction question on the FAFSA.
  • Ensure access to affordable child care at HBCUs, community colleges, and other MSIs and invest in the child care workforce by passing his Preparing and Resourcing Our Student Parents and Early Childhood Teachers (PROSPECT) Act, which provides grants to MSIs and community colleges for student parents who need child care and invests in infant and toddler educators. 

Read more about his plan here.