Giving itself an " 'A' any way you measure it" on its report card for aid to black colleges and universities, the Reagan administration announced yesterday that in the past year its aid to those schools increased by $19.6 million to $564.5 million.
Secretary of Education Terrel H. Bell said the administration is seeking to give the schools the most federal aid possible by helping them compete for federal grants and research projects. But Bell was quick to add that the administration did not set aside any money for the black schools.
In not showing favoritism, "We imposed the same high standards on ourselves that we are asking of other levels of government in meeting our country's commitment to education," he said. "We did not settle for any short cuts in making the grade."
The special emphasis on aid to the black colleges, Bell said, recognizes their "unique contribution" to educating blacks, graduating 85 percent of the nation's black lawyers and doctors, 75 percent of its black PhDs and military officers and half the black business executives.
Bell added that some of the historically black schools now have 50 percent white enrollment and said it is not the administration's intent to foster segregation by supporting mostly black colleges as a separate system of higher education.
But Bell said that encouraging desegregation of the nation's colleges has proven "difficult" for the adminstration because students choose where to attend school and whites do not select the black schools.
Bell said that the administration sees a need to aid black schools despite growing integration because they play an important role in helping black students who drop out elsewhere or seek special instruction. He noted that while only 20 percent of black college students attend black schools they account for 40 percent of black students who earn degrees.
As examples of how the federal grants are being used by the black schools, Bell cited Morehouse College for developing a medical school--the third at a black college or university--through a matching grant from the Department of Education. He said Texas Southern University is creating a banking, insurance and financial-management center and South Carolina State College is starting a program of micro-computer-assisted instruction.
In a report to the president and the Cabinet Council on Human Resources yesterday, Bell reported that the 115 black schools received $564.5 million in federal grants and contracts during 1982, 5.7 percent of all federal dollars for higher education, while educating 200,000, or 1.7 percent, of the nation's 12 million college students.