A bipartisan bill to permanently fund historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and other minority-serving institutions passed in the Senate Thursday.
The bill intends to provide $255 million annually for these institutions using money obtained from the Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Act. It will also simplify the FAFSA application by removing 22 questions and get rid of the “bureaucratic verification nightmare for most students,” according to a release.
The “verification nightmare” refers to when students have to verify that they provide the exact same information to the Department of Education and the IRS.
Senate Education Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), ranking member Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Sens. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Christopher Coons (D-Del.) sponsored the bill.
“It’s hard to think of a piece of legislation that would have more of a lasting impact on minority students and their families than this bill,” Alexander said in the release.
“While this funding should never have lapsed in the first place, I’m glad that we were able to reach a deal that provides minority-serving institutions with the certainty of funding they deserve—and I truly appreciate the work done on both sides of the aisle to get us to this point,” Murray said in the release.
The bill also helps remove up to $6 billion of mistakes annually, allows 7 million applicants to be excused from requesting separate documentation from the IRS if they cannot access their data and speeds up repayment by getting rid of some annual paperwork.
The FAFSA Act will contribute to the funding, which the Congressional Budget Office estimates will save taxpayers $2.8 billion over 10 years.