Fact Check: Trump Increased Funds for Black Colleges 17%

Democrat Debate at Texas Southern University (Joel Pollak / Breitbart News)
Joel Pollak / Breitbart News

CLAIM: President Donald Trump “signed legislation to increase federal funding for HBCUs by a record 13 percent.  That was the highest ever done.”

VERDICT: True, and he has increased it by 17% since 2017.

The third Democrat debate is being held on the campus of Texas Southern University, one of over 100 historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in the United States.

Democrat Debate at Texas Southern University (Joel Pollak / Breitbart News)

Democrat Debate at Texas Southern University (Joel Pollak / Breitbart News)

As U.S. News notes, “More than 20% of black college graduates receive their degree from an HBCU, according to Department of Education data, and the schools are responsible for producing a significant proportion of STEM degrees earned by black students, including 31% of biology and math degrees.”

HBCUs have played a prominent role in the Democratic Party presidential primary. Candidates like former Vice President Joe Biden and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) have both held events at HBCUs, for example.

Earlier this week, President Trump spoke to the 2019 National Historically Black Colleges and Universities Week Conference. He touted his administration’s achievements for HBCUs so far:

[I[n my first weeks in office, I took action to make HBCUs a top priority once again.  I signed an executive order to move the federal HBCU initiative to the White House, right where it belongs.  (Applause.)

Over the past two and a half years, we have listened and learned from you, and we have taken very, very major action.  I think you know that.  I signed legislation to increase federal funding for HBCUs by a record 13 percent.  That was the highest ever done.  (Applause.)

Today, I’m thrilled to announce another major action we’re taking to protect HBCUs.  Previously, federal law restricted more than 40 faith-based HBCUs and seminaries from fully accessing federal support for capital improvement projects.  This meant that your faith-based institutions, which have made such extraordinary contributions to America, were unfairly punished for their religious beliefs.  Did we know that?  Did everybody know that?  Because it was …  that was not good.

This week, our Department of Justice has published an opinion declaring such discriminatory restrictions as unconstitutional.  (Applause.)  It was a big step.  And from now on, faith-based HBCUs will enjoy equal access to federal support.

U.S. News notes that the funding increase under the Trump administration is actually higher than the president claimed: “[U]nder the Trump administration, federal funding for HBCUs has increased by more than $100 million over the last two years, a 17% increase since 2017.”

Critics, however, argue that the administration has proposed cuts to overall federal spending on college programs that would, in theory, cancel some of the positive effects of that funding increase.

Thursday marked the convocation of the school year at Texas Southern on the other side of the campus, complete with performances by the school band and cheerleading squad.

Texas Southern boasts that it is “ranked #1 in Texas in degrees awarded to African-Americans.”

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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