16 states underfunded land-grant HBCUs by over $12B, Biden admin says


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Dive Brief:

  • The Biden administration urged 16 governors Monday to remedy historical underfunding of their states’ historically Black land-grant universities, which federal officials said collectively missed out on more than $12 billion over the past few decades. 
  • Education Secretary Miguel Cardona and Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack wrote individual letters to the 16 state executives, who include Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida and Democratic Gov. Wes Moore of Maryland. The cabinet members wrote that the administration identified the funding gap by analyzing federal data from 1987 to 2020.
  • The largest funding deficits the Biden administration identified were in Tennessee and North Carolina. In those two states, land-grant HBCUs should have received more than $2 billion, officials wrote.

Dive Insight:

Land-grant universities were first established in the 19th century as tools to promote agricultural and technical education. Under federal law, states must equitably distribute state funding among all of their land-grant universities. However, many historically Black land-grants have been shortchanged.

A Forbes analysis last year found states underfunded land-grant HBCUs by almost $13 billion over the past 30 years compared to their predominantly White counterparts. The Biden administration arrived at a similar conclusion, using data pulled from the National Center for Education Statistics.

Only two of the 18 states that have HBCU land-grant institutions, Delaware and Ohio, have funded them equitably, the education and agriculture departments said. 

“Unacceptable funding inequities have forced many of our nation’s distinguished Historically Black Colleges and Universities to operate with inadequate resources and delay critical investments in everything from campus infrastructure to research and development to student support services,” Cardona said in a statement Monday.


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