The latest government spending bill included $1.3 billion in HBCU institutional loan forgiveness. Introduced by Rep. Alma Adams, the HBCU Capital Finance Debt Relief Act provides schools with the flexibility to invest in direct student aid and support. 

A provision in the bill directs the Department of Education to pay off the federally backed loans for the school. NPR reported the agreement will benefit over 40 HBCUs. The schools will also receive an addition $935 million in relief funds similar to funds received last spring from the CARES Act.              

“This debt forgiveness is nothing short of transformational for HBCUs, and with this Congress can now add itself to the likes of Netflix founders Reed Hastings and Patty Quillin, McKinsey Scott, and Bruce and Martha Karsh, who have donated considerable resources to HBCUs to make life better for those who are the most deserving and know the impact of racial inequity in our country,” said Dr. Michael L. Lomax, president and CEO of UNCF in a statement.

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Other education provisions in the final spending bill include expanding opportunities for students to access the Pell Grant, which will be extended to incarcerated students. It also streamlines the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) making it easier for students to get the aid they need. 

Adams said in a statement that these measures will permit HBCUs to focus on empowering communities of color. “Combined, these measures will help ensure that higher education continues to be an accessible bridge to the middle class.”