Historically Black land-grant universities in Florida and 15 other states have been deprived of a staggering $12.6 billion in funding over the past three decades, according to the Biden administration. In an effort to rectify this significant disparity, Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack have penned letters to the governors of each state, urging them to increase funding.
News outlets have reported that the largest funding gap exists in Tennessee, where Tennessee State University has suffered from an underfunding of $2.1 billion dollars. Secretary Cardona expressed his discontent with this inequity, stating, “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.”
The letters were not exclusive to Tennessee, as they were also dispatched to the governors of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia. All these states are home to land-grant universities that have experienced similar funding discrepancies.
The establishment of land-grant universities dates back to the 19th century when they were founded on federal land with the aim of advancing agricultural instruction and research. However, despite federal law mandating an equitable distribution of state funding for all land-grant universities, this obligation has not been fulfilled in numerous historically Black institutions, as revealed by a recent analysis.
The analysis, conducted by federal agencies using data from the National Center for Education Statistics, discovered funding disparities in 16 out of the 18 states that house Black land grants. Only Delaware and Ohio were found to have provided equitable funding, highlighting the urgent need for other states to address this issue.
In conclusion, the Biden administration is striving to address the funding inequities faced by historically Black land-grant universities. The significant funding gaps of $12.6 billion over the past three decades have hindered these institutions from adequately serving their students and investing in important areas such as campus infrastructure, research and development, and student support services. By urging governors to increase funding, Secretary Cardona and Secretary Vilsack are working towards rectifying this long-standing disparity and ensuring that these universities receive the financial resources they require to thrive and provide quality education.