The executive order – which renews the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities – will allow low-income and middle class students at HCBUs obtain more financial aid, as well as help colleges and universities improve infrastructure and support for academic programs.
“HBCUs face tough challenges today,” President Obama said at an event announcing the order. “Endowments and state budgets are shrinking, too many facilities are deteriorating, and enrollment is falling — and the cost of education keeps going up. And these schools feel the pain more acutely—they do more with less, and they enroll higher proportions of low- and middle-income students.”
The $850 million in new funding will also increase the Pell Grant maximum award in 2011 and support a comprehensive science and technology workforce program at the National Science Foundation, designed to engage undergraduates by realigning and building on existing programs.
The executive order is critical for HBCUs facing declining enrollment due to the recession. Many schools have had to raise costs, lay off staff, and consolidate programs.