Over the last three decades, recent statistics show that several HBCUs have been underfunded by at least $12.8 billion.
According to Forbes, 18 public “land-grant” HBCUs founded in the 19th century by state legislatures in the South have been cheated out of billions between 1987 and 2020 compared to their predominantly white counterparts.
Tennessee State University, for example, is one of those 18 schools that reportedly received $1.9 billion less than it would have if it were funded at the same amount per student as the University of Tennessee (UT), the outlet reports.
For years there has been a lack of funding,” says Glenda Glover, president of TSU, adding that two school buildings need substantial repair. “There has been neglect.”
At the top of the list, North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University (NC A&T) in Greensboro has been experiencing underfunding struggles since 1987. Forbes marks the school as the most underfunded HBCU by a total of $2.8 billion.
Data shows that Florida A&M University, Southern University in Louisiana, and Prairie View A&M University in Texas are the top five most underfunded institutions. However, schools in two states—Delaware and Ohio—were not underfunded at all.
The magazine highlights that “the greater state funding of the predominantly white land-grant schools can be explained by those institutions’ strength as research universities.”
In 2020, the North Carolina legislature granted NC State, with only 7% of its 32,000 students being Black, $79 million extra for research. These figures amount to 15% of its total state funding, less than 5% of its $1.6 billion operating budget. NC A&T—the nation’s largest HBCU, with 11,700 students—wasn’t as fortunate, receiving just $9.5 million for research, amounting to 10% of its state funding.
N. Joyce Payne, the founder of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, describes the lack of funding as the “highest level of sanctioned discrimination.”
“The inequities are embedded and sanctioned by state governments, the federal government, and by private industry. They say to the white schools, you can drive a Bentley, but the Black schools are told they can’t get a car at all.”