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WPI 2024 HBCU & Small College Forum
We are excited to announce the the dates and theme for the 2024 Virtual WPI HBCU & Small College Forum. We hope you will join us March 11-12, 2024. This is an excellent opportunity to interact with and learn from a variety of higher education experts. Stay tuned.   Registration information is coming soon.
Higher Education News

The Department of Education (Department) resumed negotiated rulemaking on January 8, 2024. Committee details, the agenda, and papers on the various topics under consideration were updated on the negotiated rulemaking webpage. The topic list includes: cash management (rules and procedures institutions must follow in requesting, maintaining, disbursing, and managing Title IV funds), state authorization (complaint system and governance), distance education (virtual locations and asynchronous learning), Title IV (withdrawals and return to Title IV funds), accreditation, and proposed wording for accreditation regulations. The committee sets aside 30 minutes at the end of each session for public comments. A request to speak must be made in advance. The sessions are open to the public. Registration is required.


Under its accountability framework, the Department is withholding payments to three more student loan servicers due to failure to send timely billing statements. It is withholding payment from Advantage, EdFinancial, and Nelnet. The Department directed the companies to place impacted borrowers into administrative forbearance pending resolution of the billing issues. The agency also sent letters of clarification to credit reporting and scoring entities. The move ensures affected borrowers will not see their credit scores drop, nor owe payment, accrue interest or have progress toward Public Service Loan Forgiveness disrupted by the errors. Previously the Department withheld payment from MOHELA due to the same issue. 


As they race to avert a government shutdown, Congressional leaders reached an agreement on the overarching spending level. However, they have yet to hammer out actual legislation. Veterans, transportation, housing, agriculture, food and drug, and energy departments are funded through January 19, 2024. The remainder of the federal government— including the Department of Education—is funded through February 2, 2024. Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is quoted as saying Congress will need to pass a stopgap bill to fund the government while legislators continue to work on legislation. Read more on the New York Times.


The Department setup a live alert page to provide status updates during the bumpy roll out of the FAFSA. Initially available on a limited basis, the application is now said to be up 24/7. The delayed launch and the glitchy roll out drew criticism. Institutions have a set schedule and this delay is creating a scheduling nightmare for financial aid administrators. Critics also noted that, despite record high inflation, the FAFSA Student Aid Index Tables were not adjusted for inflation, as required by law. The Department, whose funding has remained flat despite the tasks it’s been assigned, may be considering making the adjustment this year rather than delaying it to the 2025-2026 award year. Read more on NPR, the Washington Post, and Inside Higher Ed.


In a recently released working paper, HBCU Enrollment and Longer-Term Outcomes, researchers found students who initially enroll in an HBCU are far more likely to earn a bachelor’s degree and have a higher household income at the age of 30 than those who do not. Much of the results were driven by students enrolling in high-earning STEM majors at broad-access HBCUs rather than those that are highly-selective. The researchers also looked at credit scores, mortgages, bankruptcy, demographic data (zip codes), student loans, and pre-college academics for over a million Black students who took the SAT between 2004 and 2010. Read more on Higher ED Dive.


Harvard University’s first Black president, Dr. Claudine Gay, has resigned. She was under intense scrutiny both before and after testifying before a congressional hearing on antisemitism on college campuses. The president of the University of Pennsylvania, Liz Magill, JD, resigned just days after the hearing. Both had been targeted by mega-donors but Gay, Harvard’s first Black female president, had her academic record and ethics called into question. One of those mega-donors has vowed to use AI to uncover plagiarists in higher education and the media. In an article in Forbes, House Representative Jim Banks (R-IN) is said to have called the December hearings a first step in a plan to defund elite institutions. Read more on Forbes and Inside Higher Ed and an editorial by Dr. Walter Kimbrough.


The Department is facing a lawsuit brought by the American Association of Cosmetology Schools and Duvall’s School of Cosmetology over the latest iteration of the gainful employment rule. The lawsuit alleges that the rule’s debt-to-earning ratio fails to track income for tipped workers and neither has a procedure for appealing the applicability of the Department’s formula nor a method for an institution to submit its own data. Read more on Higher Ed Dive


In a lawsuit filed against Grand Canyon University, Grand Canyon Education, and Brian Mueller, the Federal Trade Commission alleged the trio misrepresented the cost of a doctoral degree. Mr. Muller is president of the university and CEO of Grand Canyon Education, the former owner of the university and its current education service provider. The lawsuit also alleges the university markets itself as a nonprofit while operating for the profit of Grand Canyon Education. At the core of the complaint is an accelerated doctoral program advertised at a cost that, according to the Department, less than 2% of graduates pay. The Department recently levied a hefty fine against the university over this issue. The university is appealing the fine citing evidence that its advertising was similar to most institutions . Read more on Higher ED Dive.


Legacy admissions continue to come under fire for giving the children of alumni an advantage over first-generation students. While most of the attention is on Harvard University and other elite PWI, legislation would extend to HBCUs. The practice is not widespread but several of the elite and selective HBCUs do afford legacy applicants preferential treatment. Proposed legislation prohibiting institutions that participate in federal student aid from employing legacy admissions has bipartisan support. A recent article advises HBCU administrators to prepare for the end of the legacy admissions era. Read more on the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education


The State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO) released a report on the policy priorities states have for higher education for 2024. The analysis is based on a survey of SHEEO members. Economic and workforce development, state operating support for public institutions, higher education’s value proposition, affordability, and state-based financial aid topped the list. Read more on Inside Higher Ed.



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Oakwood University named Dr. Dawn M. Turner assistant vice president for research and faculty development and director for adult and continuing education. Dr. Turner, an alumna, is an associate professor of management. 


Texas Southern University named Charlie W. Coleman, III, JD, associate vice president of development. He hails from Dillard University where he served as assistant vice president of development and alumni relations.


Jarvis Christian University named the Rev. Dr. B. Sherrance Russell assistant vice president of enrollment management and retention. The Rev. Dr. Russell has served in key positions at Huston-Tillotson University, Central State University, Saint Augustine’s University, the University of Missouri, and the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. 


Philander Smith University named Ms. Mariah Yarbrough head volleyball coach. Ms. Yarbrough is alumna of the university, former head volleyball coach, and former team captain of Philander Smith’s volleyball team. 


Dillard University named Dr. Monique Guillory provost and chief academic and enrollment officer. Dr. Guillory is an experienced higher education administrator who most recently served the University of the District of Columbia as chief of staff and senior vice president.


Spelman College named Ms. Salena Gray Jegede as senior vice president for institutional advancement. Ms. Jegede, an alumna, has served in similar capacities at several organizations. She has experience managing large campaigns, including managing a $1,000,000 000 campaign for the Sierra Club. 


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Grants and Gifts

Miles College received a three-year $300,000 grant to study indicator bacteria in the West Fowl River watershed—an important source of shellfish. The grant was awarded by the Environmental and Ecological Systems Division of the National Science Foundation. Principal investigator and awardee, Dr. Nikaela Flournoy, an assistant professor of biology, is hoping the results will help identify and reduce sources of the pollutants impacting the watershed. This is Miles College’s first National Science Foundation grant. 


The Bullard Center for Environmental and Climate Justice at Texas Southern University was named a regional grantmaker by the Environmental Protection Agency in its $600,000,000 Environmental Justice thriving Communities Grantmaking Program. The goal of the agency's program is to facilitate funding for small community-based environmental justice organizations. The Bullard Center will work with the HBCU-CBO Consortia, the National Black Environmental Justice Network, Achieving Community Tasks Successfully, South Central Environmental Justice Resource Center at New Mexico State University, and the EPA Region 6 EJ Thriving Communities Technical Assistance. 


Tuskegee University, Alabama A&M University, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, and Virginia State University (1890 Agroforestry Consortium Institutions) were awarded a five-year $5,000,000 grant from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture – Natural Resources Conservation Service. The award will fund efforts to promote climate change resistant agroforestry and teach farmers and landowners how to select crops and trees that are resistant to climate change. 


North Carolina A&T State University received a $100,000 gift from the Tom Joyner Foundation with a special contribution from legendary musician, Stevie Wonder. The gift will establish the Tom Joyner Foundation/Stevie Wonder Music Program Scholarships for students in the music program and ensembles. Stevie Wonder donated his earnings from the 2023 Tom Joyner Foundation Fantastic Voyage, an annual fundraising cruise, to help establish the scholarship fund. 


Dillard University received a $20,000 grant from the Keller Family Foundation. The funds will be used to install water bottle refilling stations in high-traffic campus areas. The initiative aims to address dehydration, improve sustainability, and reduce plastic waste. 


Talladega College received a $15,000 donation from Georgia-Pacific. The gift will be used to help the college move forward with various initiatives and programs



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North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and North Carolina Central University, were among the institutions that were awarded the 2024 Carnegie Community Engagement Classification. For nearly 20 years, the elective classification has been conferred in recognition of an institution’s community engagement. Read more on the Carnegie Classifications website.


Selma University President Dr. Stanford Angion spoke at the161st commemoration of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. The event was held at the Christian Light Missionary. Read more in the Selma Times Journal


Alabama A&M University announced Dr. Samantha Strachan, an associate professor and program coordinator for the department of teacher education and leadership, has been accepted as a candidate into Stanford University’s Faculty Innovation Fellowship Program. During her candidacy, Dr. Strachan will work with an international team seeking methods to improve the recruitment and retention of teachers. Read more on the Alabama A&M University website.


Langston University Marching Pride Band Director Mark Gordon received a honorary doctorate in philosophy from the Leaders Esteem Christian Bible University in Texas. The Martin Luther King, Jr. Foundation of Houston, Texas nominated him for the award. Read more on the Langston University website. 


Tuskegee University announced Dr. Shahryar Jafarinejad, assistant professor of chemical engineering, co-edited a book with Dr. Bryan Beckingham, an associate professor of chemical engineering at Auburn University. In  The Renewable Energy-Water-Environment Nexus: Fundamentals, Technology, and Policy , scientists from around the world examine the connections between renewable energy, water, and the environment. They also look at the impact of technologies, sustainability, and public policies. Read more on the Tuskegee University website. 


Hampton University will dedicate the stage in Robert C. Ogden Hall to honor Roland M. Carter in recognition of his service to the institution and the campus community. The dedication will be a part of the 131st Founder’s Day Ceremony. Read more on the Hampton University website.


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Simmons College of Kentucky announced it will offer three special topic courses. The Color of Compromise: A History of Race and the Church will be taught by Dr. Jemar Tisby. The lived theology of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., will be taught by Dr. Stewart Burns and Preaching About Communities in Crises will be taught by Dr. James Perkins. 


North Carolina Central University Department of Mass Communication is offering a special topics course in entertainment promotion and marketing. The course will be taught by Wells Fargo Endowed Professor, Dr. Aerial Ellis. Dr. Ellis will collaborate with Executive-in-Residence Benny Pough, whose experience includes stints at Motown Records, MCA Records, Universal Music Group, Roc Nation, and Epic Records. 


Alabama State University Department of Music will launch a piano program for children ages 6-12. Two-time Grammy award nominee Dr. Adonis Gonzalez and national board certified music teacher, Dr. Michael Zelenak will teach the classes. The after school program will run for 9 weeks


Building on its Institute of Global Health Equity, Meharry Medical College is launching the nation’s first school of global health. A founding advisory board of experts from diverse industries has been assembled. The initial focus will be on political determinants of health; mental health; population health; and health communications. The college expects to begin enrolling students in the fall of 2024.


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Federal Student Aid (FSA)
Contact agencies or call 404-874-0555 to schedule a consultation with a student financial aid management specialist.

●  The deadline to file a disclosure report for foreign gifts and contracts is January 31 or July 31, whichever is sooner, once there reporting obligation has been triggered.  The trigger for covered gifts from a foreign source is the date the gift was received. Similarly, institutions must report contracts with a foreign source according to the date the contract was entered into. See the FAQ and guidance here.


●  The deadline to submit a request for an Underuse Penalty Waiver for the campus-based programs is February 5, 2024. 


●  StudentAid.gov will require individuals who do not have a Social Security number to go through a secondary identity verification process. This process will require applicants to send acceptable documentation and a signed attestation form via email. Read the notice online


●  The 2024-2025 FAFSA form for confined or incarcerated students is available in English and Spanish. Applicants will not receive a FAFSA submission summary until after the form is processed. Read more.


●  FSA published a reminder regarding required attestations for regular and short-term programs. The notice included information on the applicability and enforcement of final regulations published on October 31, 2023. 


●  The updated SAIG enrollment agreement is available. This update requires acknowledgment of the criminal and civil penalties for the unauthorized inspection or disclosure of federal tax information. The latest edition of SAIG software is required to transmit federal tax information for the 2024–25 award year. Software updates for EDconnect and TDClient are available on the software page of the FSA website.


●  FSA provided an outline and suggested text for 2024-2025 FAFSA verification. Institutions are not required to use the suggested text and formats, with the exception of the "Statement of Educational Purpose" (Appendix A ) for students who are placed in Verification Tracking Groups V4 or V5. That text must be used exactly as provided. Aside from that exception, institutions may develop and use their own text, forms, documents, statements, and certifications specific to the items required to be verified for a particular student or group of students.


●  Institutions impacted by a national emergency in a foreign country can take advantage of waivers offered by the Department. Under the CARES Act, the Department can waive limitations on distance education and written arrangements if a national emergency has been declared in the foreign country where the institution is located. This applies only to declared national emergencies. It does not apply to disasters or closures that are not part of a national emergency. The Department will consider granting waivers on a case-by-case basis upon request by an institution. The waiver, if approved, will be granted retroactively to the date a national emergency was declared. Unless the Secretary notifies an institution otherwise, the waiver will expire at the end of an institution’s first payment period that begins after the end of the declared national emergency.


●  Under the guidance aimed at institutions that participate in the Federal Family Education Loan, Parent Plus Loan, and the Federal Perkins Loan Programs, a loan holder can fulfill its regulatory requirements by evaluating a borrower’s undue hardship claim to determine whether full or partial discharge is recommended. In cases where the borrowers claim of undue hardship is not supported, the holder must determine if the cost of objecting to the claim will exceed the amount that would be discharged.


●  The 2024-2025 College Financing Plan is available. The plan is a tool that institutions can use to notify prospective students about their financial aid package. Scroll down to see the list.


●  FSA issued a warning to research institutions about hackers targeting and exploiting Atlassian’s Confluence Data Center and Server. The attackers create an unauthorized administrator account to access Confluence instances so they can exfiltrate data. Institutions are advised to check their server version to see if it is a vulnerable one (CVE-2023-22515), upgrade your server, and conduct comprehensive threat detection.


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Event: Developing a Donor Engagement Plan

Date: January 18, 2024

Location: Online


Event: CHEA Annual Conference

Date: Jan. 29-Feb. 1, 2024

Venue: Washington, DC


Event: ABHE Annual Meeting

Date: Feb. 14-16, 2024 

Venue: Orlando, FL


Event: Association of Business Administrators of Christian Colleges Annual Conference

Date: Feb. 19-22, 2024 

Venue: Kissimmee, FL


Event: The Integral Partnership for Innovation: Board and Administration Roles in Leading Accreditation

Date: On Demand Webinar for AGB Members

Venue: Virtual


Event: How to Start a Registered Apprenticeship

Date: Podcast

Venue: Virtual


Event: Strategies for Surviving Year-end Reporting Webinar

Date: On Demand

Venue: Virtual


Event: University Business Cybersecurity Webinar

Date: On Demand

Venue: Virtual

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About this Publication
WPG HBCU News is a monthly email published by the Wesley Peachtree Group, CPAs (WPG) as a service to the sector. It consists of short summaries of news articles, government regulations, and announcements found online.

WPG HBCU News is available at no cost to HBCU administrators, trustees, and senior stakeholders. It is not intended as legal or financial advice. WPG's staff, writers, editors,  publishers, web hosts, email distributors, and others involved with the production and presentation of this newsletter are not liable for errors, omissions, losses, injuries, or damages arising directly or indirectly from use of this newsletter or any information presented therein.

WPG is a full-service accounting firm serving privately held businesses and clients in the education, government, faith-based, and not-for-profit sectors. We specialize in higher education with a particular emphasis on minority-serving institutions. We hope you find this publication useful and welcome your feedback.
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