Y2K Problems More Severe in Minority Colleges

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WASHINGTON -- While a new survey by the U.S. Department of Education reveals that 97 percent of colleges and universities will be Y2K ready by Jan. 1, 2000, minority colleges and universities, on average, are lagging behind.

'Black and Native-American (colleges and universities) are slightly behind on being Y2K ready,' said David Dexter, deputy director, Year 2000 Project, for the U.S. Department of Education.

Dexter noted that Hispanic colleges are reporting higher than the national average readiness at 98 percent. Ninety percent of Native-American colleges will be Y2K ready by the end of the year; 86 percent of black colleges expect to be ready. 'The vast majority of them expect to be compliant by December 31,' he said. 'All are optimistic that they'll get there, but the clock is ticking.'

Y2K problems in colleges and universities can pose problems for students in receiving financial aid, according to a separate report issued by the U.S. Department of Education. Needy students, and minority colleges, may be affected the most by glitches in an institution's computer systems.

The U.S. Department of Education has held Y2K focus groups in minority colleges around the country this year, Dexter said. He found that colleges are acutely aware of the potential for problems in financial aid and are preparing.

'Schools won't expel students because of Y2K,' Dexter said. 'There are back-up plans from extending credit for students to buying books to holding students harmless (because they don't attend class) because of transportation problems.'

Dexter points out that many minority colleges and universities have access to Title 3 funds under the federal Higher Education Act for Y2K remediation efforts.

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