Dillard could gain $5 million from new law

Dillard may receive an estimated $500,000 a year for the next 10 years in funding provided by the Health Care and Reconciliation Act of 2010 signed by President Obama on March 30.


As the university budget for the 2010-11 year is being prepared, Dr. Walter Strong, executive vice president, said the administration will prioritize use of the funding in terms of need.


Strong also said the act may provide a way for students to receive two Pell Grants a year. He said the business office and the offices of Student Success and Financial Aid are evaluating the different ways Pell Grants can be issued.


Some 805 Dillard students, or 84 percent, received Pell Grants this year, totaling $3.4 million, according to Shannon Neal, interim financial aid director. More than 8 billion Americans rely on Pell Grant scholarships to afford college each year, according to www.whitehouse.gov.


The bill strengthens the Pell Grant program and invests in community colleges, HBCUs and other “minority-serving” institutions and helps student borrowers manage their student loans debt, the site said.


The education components of the act are in line with Obama’s goal of America having the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020, according to the site. The initiatives in Obama’s “broader agenda for higher education” include:


·        Increased investments in America’s community colleges, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, Tribal Colleges and Universities and other Minority Serving Institutions. 

·        More than doubling funding for Pell scholarships between 2008 and 2011.

·        Expanding income-based repayment options for borrowers with unmanageable debt.

·        Simplifying the Federal Student Aid Application to make it easier to apply for financial aid for college.

·        Tripling the largest college tax credit, now known as the American Opportunity Tax Credit.


The law will provide $2.55 billion in “mandatory funding” to HBCUs and minority-serving schools to “renew, reform and expand programming.” Such schools account for nearly one-third of all degree-granting institutions, enrolling almost 60 percent of the 4.7 million minority undergraduates in America today, the site said.


The law also will provide more than $40 billion in Pell Grants. The site said about two-thirds of graduates take out loans, with the average debt being more than $23,000. The “Expanded Income-Based Repayment” plan is expected to help with loan repayment but will only apply to loans taken out in 2014 and beyond.


Strong said he applauds Obama and his team for understanding the importance and purpose of HBCUs and other such schools. He said educating students of color is now everyone’s business, and this act and funding are in the public interest of America.


“You can’t advance the country without investing in all its citizens.”