The Biden administration will allocate nearly $100 million to educational institutions that predominantly serve minority Americans, according to a recent announcement from the Department of Education.
The news release detailed the eligibility criteria for Minority-Serving Institutions. These institutions can apply for grants to enhance infrastructure and boost “improved student outcomes for underserved students.”
It was revealed in the release that the Biden administration has already directed $25 billion to these colleges. This funding announcement follows closely on the heels of a Supreme Court ruling that affirmative action programs, as they currently stand, cannot be utilized in college admissions decisions.
The Department of Education contextualized this grant move within the broader landscape of the Supreme Court’s ruling, underscoring the significance of diversity in higher education. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona emphasized the vital importance of investing in HBCUs, Tribal Colleges and Institutions serving minorities, small community colleges, and other minority institutions during these trying times.
Secretary Cardona highlighted that these grants could help enhance research and innovation at these institutions and strengthen evidence-based support for underserved students, assisting them in completing their degrees.
The grant fund consists of two components. One of them allows minority-serving colleges to apply for money to enhance their research capabilities.
The news release also noted the ongoing need for financial support to help minority and low-income students overcome barriers to successful college enrollment and completion. It stated, “As the number of non-traditional students in postsecondary education increases, additional and different supports are required to enable students to complete their credentials.”
The announcement came in the wake of a 6-3 ruling by the Supreme Court in June, which deemed that affirmative action policies pursued by Harvard University and the University of North Carolina violated the Constitution.
The majority ruling clarified that separating students based on race needed an “exceedingly persuasive justification” and that the programs failed to meet that standard. Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor dissented in both cases, while Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson recused herself from the Harvard case but dissented in the UNC case.
The statement also pointed out that the respondents in the case acknowledged race’s significant role in their admissions decisions. They conceded that the demographics of their admitted student bodies would undergo substantial changes if race-based admissions were discontinued, and they recognized that race is a decisive factor for the access of at least some, if not a considerable number, of their students.