Financial aid for HBCU students may be a thing of the past

c2adcompressed_fisk_graduationIt goes without saying that students attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) use every resource available to them to pay for college. But the financial strain on them may get worse as new financial aid policies take effect and some HBCUs are considering legal action while students are left in limbo.

Recent news articles are reporting that the underwriting standards enacted in October 2011 for PLUS loans cut a number of students’ eligibility based on their parent’s credit history from the past five years. Previously, a parent’s credit history from the past 90 days would be used to determine eligibility. Further complicating the matter, the underwriting standards neglected to include a grandfather clause that would allow previous borrowers to apply for a new loan based on the old standards.

“We’re going to continue to pursue the legislative process to find a better solution,” Johnny C. Taylor, president and CEO of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, told the Washington Times. “[But] if at some point we determine that there is no agreement, then we may have to consider going to the courts.”

HBCUs typically don’t have sufficiently robust endowment funds to offer their own financial aid to replace loans. The combined endowments of all HBCUs is $1.6 billion, which is less than Ohio State University’s $2 billion fund and far below Harvard’s $19 billion, according to The Grio.”

PLUS loans are not the only ones hitting students and HBCUs in their wallets. Other tuition assistance programs, like the Pell Grant and the District of Columbia’s TAG, are either providing less assistance to students or over budget and postponing payments to schools.

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