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Saturday May 27th

Tillis' new bill would allow HBCUs more financial flexibility

<p>U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, R-NC, while he was speaker of the House of the N.C. General Assembly in 2012.</p>
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U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, R-NC, while he was speaker of the House of the N.C. General Assembly in 2012.

U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., introduced the Carryover Equity Act of 2018 – a bipartisan bill that would allow financial flexibility for historically black colleges and universities across the nation — earlier this month.

Passage of the bill would have a major financial impact for North Carolina A&T State University programs, specifically for funding their Cooperative Extension Program — a program which provides educational programs and resources for low-income students and communities across the state. HBCUs are currently unable to carry over more than 20 percent of funds across fiscal years, unlike all other land-grant universities.

“If the Carryover Equity Act is passed, the ability to carryover a greater portion means that we can plan our programs much better and plan them in a long-range fashion,” said Rosalind Dale, an administrator for N.C. A&T and leader of the Cooperative Extension program.

“Sometimes you just need more funds to do things, and that ability to carry over money helps do that, versus trying to spend it before the end of the fiscal year.”

Dale said there are two designations for land-grant universities in North Carolina: 1862 institutions, such as N.C. State University, and 1890 institutions, which are all HBCUs. The 1862 programs do not face the same fiscal barriers, with no restrictions on equity transfer.

“For our 1862 counterparts they are able to carryover any unobligated funds from one year to the next,” Dale said. “The equity bill will create a situation where the two different types of universities are treated equally and gives us the same capacity, which is important for 1890 institutions because we typically have less funding than our 1862 counterparts.”

Dale said the University has been in close communication with Tillis on pushing the Carryover Equity Act through the Senate. Tillis expressed the irrationality of the barriers currently restraining N.C. A&T in his official statement.

In the statement, Tillis said N.C. A&T has made invaluable contributions to helping North Carolina build one of the most advanced extension services in the country.

“The Carryover Equity Act will eliminate unnecessary restrictions and allow land-grant universities like North Carolina A&T to gain the financial flexibility they need to continue advancing their programs through long-term investment and project development,” Dale said. 

Aaron West, an African-American studies professor at N.C. A&T, said he presumed the legislature in 1890 was trying to control HBCUs through financial regulations.

“My guess would be that, from a sense of paternalism, the state wanted to keep a close eye on the (HBCUs),” West said. 

“I would also think that the same sense of needing to keep a tighter reign on the (HBCUs) is why it has persisted so long, as lawmakers used (HBCUs') graduation rates and other indicators to justify what would otherwise be seen as unfair.”


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