FAIRFAX, Va., Jan. 27 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is a statement by Dr. Michael L. Lomax, UNCF President and CEO:
As the nation's largest minority education organization, UNCF -- the United Negro College Fund -- is encouraged by the high priority President Obama has given to education, affirming his pledge almost a year ago "to ensure that every child has access to a complete and competitive education – from the day they are born to the day they begin a career." We urge him, as he develops his proposals in more detail, to give serious consideration to the special challenges that face minority and low-income students, and to give those challenges the visibility and priority that Race to the Top and the community college initiative have received.
In particular, we urge the president to redouble his efforts to support the nation's historically black colleges and universities and other minority-serving institutions. These institutions are playing a leading role in giving minority and low-income students the college education they need to find good jobs and begin their careers. The Administration must do more to engage and drive targeted resources to these engines of job creation and economic growth.
Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act
Last year the president proposed, in the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2009 (SAFRA), to invest $3 billion in increasing federal support for programs that help students attend and complete college. The bill was passed by the House of Representatives in September. We urge the president to press the Senate to consider and approve this landmark legislation so that, as soon as possible, students can receive the support they need to complete their college education and receive their degrees.
Passage of SAFRA would also make college education more affordable for low- and moderate income Americans. As college tuition has increased, students have been forced to borrow more money and incur more debt. The Income-Based Repayment Program component of SAFRA will decrease the loan payments of hundreds of thousands of low-income borrowers with significant student loan debt lightening the load of many Americans and enabling them to get the education they need and our nation needs them to have. We urge the president to work closely with Congress to pass this important legislation and realize the potential of his direct lending proposal. Direct lending is crucial to increasing the purchasing power of Pell Grants, the centerpiece of the federal government's low-income student assistance program. This legislation invests its savings to make college more affordable and to ensure that students graduate.
UNCF -- the United Negro College Fund -- is the nation's largest and most effective minority education organization. To serve youth, the community and the nation, UNCF supports students' education and development through scholarships and other programs, strengthens its 39 member colleges and universities, and advocates for the importance of minority education. UNCF institutions and other historically black colleges and universities are highly effective, awarding 18 percent of African American baccalaureate degrees. UNCF administers more than 400 programs, including scholarship, internship and fellowship, mentoring, summer enrichment, and curriculum and faculty development programs. Today, UNCF supports more than 60,000 students at over 900 colleges and universities across the country. Its logo features the UNCF torch of leadership in education and its widely recognized motto, "A mind is a terrible thing to waste."® Learn more at www.UNCF.org.
SOURCE United Negro College Fund