Home » States are underfunding land-grant HBCUs, but what can we do about it?

States are underfunding land-grant HBCUs, but what can we do about it?

by The Grio

(Adobe Stock Images)

Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

Historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are severely underfunded and lacking in resources compared to their white counterparts. HBCUs find themselves in a paradox as they experience historic increases in enrollment, yet as their predominantly white counterparts enjoy multibillion-dollar endowments and vast resources — billions of dollars in some cases — HBCUs are financially depleted and under-resourced with only millions.

A prime example of HBCU underfunding is among the nation’s land-grant institutions, which Congress established with the Morrill Acts of 1862 and 1890. The federal government allocated federal land to the states to fund and endow land-grant colleges.   

Looking at the reason for the resource disparity between predominantly white institutions (PWIs) and the 19 HBCUs that are land-grant institutions, it all comes down to a racial funding gap. Some would call it theft, as in the theft of billions of dollars in federal and state government money to Black institutions. This is systemic racism 150 years in the making — complete with receipts. And this is why so many land-grant HBCUs are struggling. But the federal farm bill could change all that.

In 1862, the Morrill Land Grant College Act, named after Senator Justin Morrill of Vermont — provided each state with 30,000 acres of public land and funded a system of public colleges and universities — both brand new and existing colleges — to “benefit the agricultural and mechanical arts.” These institutions received land and money for their “endowment, support and maintenance.” Some examples of these land-grant institutions are Clemson, Cornell, Iowa State, MIT, the University of Missouri, Nebraska, Rutgers, Washington State and the University of Wisconsin….

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