Obama Bill Would Provide Funds for Predominantly Black Colleges

Barack Obama, U.S. senator from Illinois and current candidate for president of the United States, recently introduced the Predominantly Black Institution Act of 2007 for Senate consideration.

The bill authorizes the secretary of education to make grants to colleges and universities with at least 1,000 students working toward a bachelor’s or associate’s degree. For an institution to be eligible for grant money, at least one half of all students must be from low-income families and 40 percent of the students have to be African Americans. Senator Obama estimates that approximately 75 colleges and universities nationwide with total enrollments of more than 250,000 students would meet the criteria for grant eligibility. Many of the eligible schools would be large, urban universities that are not eligible to receive funds reserved for historically black colleges and universities.

Grants, which would be a minimum of $250,000, could be used for a wide variety of purposes including academic instruction, community outreach programs, endowment enhancement, student retention efforts, and other programs to “enhance the institution’s capacity to serve more low- and middle-income African-American students.”

The bill has been referred to committee and no action is expected in the near future. Readers interested in seeing the text of the Obama legislation can click here.