Black Colleges Fight To Regain Years Of Overdue Funding

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Around the country, historically Black colleges and universities are fighting for funding that they have long deserved. The best example of this tireless fight to secure funding has been taking place right outside of the nation's capital in the state of Maryland.

Schools like Morgan State University, Coppin State University and the University Maryland Eastern Shore have just secured $577 million in support from the government over the next decade. However, that funding did not come easy. In fact, these institutions had too pool their resources for a 15-year long legal battle to secure funding from the state of Maryland. Unfortunately, stories like this are not uncommon.

"Our institutions have not — and still are not — being treated the same," Alabama A&M University President Andrew Hugine Jr. told CBS News.

Sitting in the state capital, Tennessee State University has been underfunded by state and local officials. Just recently, a lengthy investigation revealed that Tennessee State University had been underfunded by about $544 million over the last seven decades. Understandably, this news infuriated the Tennessee State University community and HBCU officials around the country.

"That $544 million figure represents not just how much money Tennessee State did not receive from the state — it also represents how much money Tennessee State had to take out of its own reserves to fulfill the [federal] match requirements," Tennessee State alum and state lawmaker Harold Love told CBS MoneyWatch.

In comparison, the University of Tennessee in Knoxville has received matching funds from the state along with extra funds for various projects over the year. As Love explains, the state has had money to give to Tennessee State in years past, but it has simply chosen not to.

"Tennessee State is not the outlier," Hugine Jr. added.

"If you talk to many HBCUs, they'll say they're struggling."

Moving forward, state officials, federal lawmakers and private companies are working to even the scales for HBCUs. Philanthropists like Mackenzie Scott have donated more than one billion dollars to HBCUs in recent months. Elsewhere, companies like Cisco have dedicated $100 million to making tech upgrades at Black colleges and universities around the country. On Capitol Hill, Rep. Alma Adams has put forth a plan to send extra funding to HBCUs over the next decade.

"HBCUs are winning right now, I think, because the narrative that's being carried forward is one that says Black folk, students, people, belong here," Center For The Study Of HBCUs Director Terrell Strayhorn explained.

Strayhorn adds that the legal battles and investigations that have taken place in Tennessee and Maryland will spark change in neighboring states as well.

"States mimic each other," Strayhorn adds.

"[The year 2021] will likely be one of those years that will be known as — among a lot of things — the year of the HBCU."

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