On Thursday (June 4), the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions held a hearing titled, “COVID-19: Going Back to College Safely.” The purpose of the hearing was to explore the current challenges and implications of dedications that leaders of institutions of higher education are making as they develop plans to safely reopen colleges and universities this fall. The Committee was interested in hearing recommendations for how colleges and universities could effectively coordinate with state and local public health officials and take into consideration the needs of all students when reopening in August.
Dr. Logan Hampton, President of Lane College in Jackson, Tennessee, served as a witness representing the Historically Black College and University (HBCU) community. Lane College was founded in 1882 by a former slave, Bishop Isaac Lane of the Colored Methodist Church. The College serves as a United Negro College Fund (UNCF) member institution. In his testimony, he highlighted the following needs of the HBCU community for the next stimulus bill to be passed by Congress:
- An increase in grant aid for students by doubling the maximum Pell Grant award that will help our low-income student properly afford higher education given the negative impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19);
- Funding to ensure the safety of students, faculty, and staff prior to re-opening the campus that includes effective COVID-19 testing resources;
- The need to provide liability protection for HBCUs, and all institutions of higher education, that will allow these institutions to have clear guidelines to confidently remain in compliance and out of fear of frivolous lawsuits;
- The removal of $62 million cap for the HBCU Capital Financing loan program to allow HBCUs to benefit from the deferment in payments of principal and interest during the full period of the COVID-19 national emergency;
- The creation of a technology fund to allow institutions and students to access broadband. This fund would supplement any additional funding received by HBCUs that will focus narrowly on broadband support;
- The ability of HBCUs, and all institutions of higher education, to be eligible for both the Paycheck Protection Program Loans and the Economic Injury Disaster Loans at the Small Business Administration regardless of the number of employees; and
- The need to allow all institutions of higher education to be eligible to receive loans in the Main Street Lending Program created by the Board of Directors of the Federal Reserve System.
A video of the hearing can be viewed here.
Read the testimony delivered by Dr. Hampton here.