March 11, 2002
Honorable William H. Gray, III
President and CEO
The College Fund/UNCF
8260 Willow Oaks Corporate Drive
P.O. Box 10444
Fairfax, Virginia 22031-4511
Dear Dr. Gray:
This is in response to your letter of December 10 concerning the President's fiscal year 2003 budget. I apologize for the delay in our response. As you are probably aware, a few letters containing anthrax were sent through the mail in October, and a D.C. mail processing facility was contaminated and shut down. Mail destined for us is currently being screened to ensure its safety, and we are experiencing some delivery delays. Thanks for understanding. I also appreciate your support for increased funding for programs that expand opportunities for disadvantaged and underrepresented minorities, and for a larger Pell Grant maximum award.
President Bush and I are committed to meeting the needs of all America's students, particularly students from disadvantaged and minority backgrounds. We fully appreciate the key role that Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Historically Black Graduate Institutions (HBGIs) have played in providing educational opportunities for African-American and other disadvantaged and minority students, and in encouraging these students to prepare for, and seek careers in, fields in which they are underrepresented. To help ensure that these institutions continue to meet the needs of the growing number of minority and disadvantaged students seeking postsecondary education, the President has pledged to increase funding for HBCUs, HBGIs, and Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) by 30 percent between 2001 and 2005. Our fiscal year 2003 budget reflects this commitment and includes $213.4 million, an increase of $7.4 million, for HBCUs; $50.8 million, an increase of $1.8 million, for HBGIs; and $89.1 million, an increase of $3.1 million, for HSIs.
Over the past several years, the Department has chosen to request higher levels of funding for Part A and Part B of Title III rather than to seek separate funding for Endowment Challenge Grants. We believe that this approach provides institutions receiving Title III grants the maximum amount of flexibility to determine their greatest needs. At the same time, these institutions may use a portion of their grant for endowment if they determine this to be a priority need.
The Pell Grant program is the Department's most need-based student aid program, and increasing the Pell Grant maximum award has been one of the President's priorities. The Administration's fiscal year 2003 request includes funds that would, under current estimates, sustain the $4,000 maximum award that was authorized in fiscal year 2002. This is a 21 percent increase over the maximum award level only three years earlier, and will, we believe, be an important benefit to students at the lowest income levels.
We appreciate the contribution that programs such as the Institute for International Public Policy can make in increasing the number of underrepresented minorities in the international field. The President's fiscal year 2003 request of $1.5 million for the IIPP program would continue support for a variety of activities that provide students with education and training experiences needed to prepare them for careers in international service.
Over the years the United Negro College Fund has been an important voice for African-American higher education, and we look forward to your continued support and assistance as we work toward providing equal educational opportunity to all Americans.