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The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation this month that would permanently fund historically black colleges and universities, Hispanic-serving institutions, and other minority-serving institutions, as well as simplify the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and eliminate paperwork for income-driven student loan repayment plans.

The Fostering Undergraduate Talent by Unlocking Resources for Education (FUTURE) Act (H.R. 5363), extends mandatory funding of Title III, Part F of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA) for Hispanic-serving institutions (HSIs), historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), predominantly black institutions (PBIs), and other minority-serving institutions (MSIs). The amended FUTURE Act would restore and permanently extend the $255 million in annual funding. HSIs and HBCUs like St. Philip’s College in San Antonio are a critical part of our nation’s higher education community and foster generations of minority leaders.

This funding stream is especially important to Bexar County because 10 local institutions are federally designated HSIs: St. Philip’s College, Palo Alto College, San Antonio College, Northeast Lakeview College, Northwest Vista College, University of the Incarnate Word, University of Texas at San Antonio, Our Lady of the Lake University, Texas A&M University at San Antonio, and St. Mary’s University. Alamo Colleges District is a Hispanic-serving district.

St. Philip’s College is also an HBCU. Founded in 1898 to educate the daughters and granddaughters of emancipated slaves, SPC is one of the oldest community colleges in the nation. For a great part of San Antonio’s history, SPC was the only higher education institution open to African Americans. Today, St. Philip’s College is one of the highest degree-producing HBCUs in the U.S. The college earned the Texas Award for Performance Excellence in 2018 and was part of the Alamo Colleges District win of the 2018 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. SPC is the only college to be federally designated as both a historically black college and a Hispanic-serving institution.

We teach leadership and marketable skills to more than 13,000 students at two campuses and Joint Base San Antonio – Lackland, Randolph and Fort Sam Houston. Our students engage in our communities and build professional networks that set them on a solid career foundation. Many of our students graduate and transfer to local four-year institutions. Many graduate and enter the workforce to support regional industries.

Nationally, Title III Funds are used for planning and faculty development. Other projects include instructional facilities, construction and maintenance, and student service programs designed to improve academic success and help students move rapidly into core courses and through program completion.

The critical stream of funding (Title III, Part F) the FUTURE Act will support St. Philip’s College in our mission to empower our diverse student population through educational achievement and career readiness. Bexar County colleges and universities are vital facets in responding to the needs of a population rich in ethnic, cultural, and socioeconomic diversity and securing a robust workforce and sustained economic growth.

I applaud the great show of support from the House of Representatives, especially Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-San Antonio) and Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Austin) for making this amendment a priority. The FUTURE Act is now on President Donald Trump’s desk. Approval is a national imperative.

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Adena Williams Loston

Dr. Adena Williams Loston is the 14th President of St. Philip’s College. She is a proud HBCU graduate (Alcorn State University) and currently serves on the President’s Advisory Board for Title III...