Y2K Problems More Severe in Minority Colleges

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.

And colleges and universities have an added hedge against Y2K
problems: Most classes don’t start until late January. ‘That gives
them a slight cushion,’ he said.

Contact: David Dexter, deputy director, Year 2000
Project, U.S. Department of Education, Washington, D.C.,
202-785-0453; web site:
www.ed.gov/y2k/reports.html.

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