By Brittany Lieberman
Managing Editor

As Congress prepares to renew the Higher Education Act, LBCC President Eloy Oakley was invited to give testimony to the U.S. Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on Tuesday, May 13, in Washington, D.C.
In a letter to the Senate, HELP chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) said the purpose of the hearings is to “examine important policy issues facing postsecondary education in the U.S.”
According to the U.S. Department of Education, the Higher Education Act is a bill that decides when, where and how federal aid is distributed to students and schools, although it does not issue those funds itself.
LBCC’s director of public relations Richard Garcia said in a press release, “LBCC is designated as a Hispanic-serving institution, with a Latino student population of 46 percent as of Fall 2013. LBCC has been designated by the federal government as an HSI for the last 17 years.”
In his written testimony, Oakley suggested better financial support for minority-serving institutions such as LBCC, whose student minority population is 83 percent.
Oakley also suggested more competitive grants for colleges, better data sharing to improve student placement, restoring and expanding the Pell Grant program and simply promoting better college preparedness.
Oakley said in a phone interview, “It was an honor to be invited by Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina. I was taken aback being among so many high-ranking government officials such as Ron Paul.”
Other speakers included the president and CEO of the United Negro College Fund, Dr. Michael Lomax, Assistant Vice Chancellor of Student Retention at Fayetteville State University Dr. Jason DeSousa and President of Heritage University Dr. John Bassett.