Historically Black colleges and universities are the latest casualties in an ongoing battle on Capitol Hill. Recently, Inside Higher Ed reported that the House Education Committee submitted a proposal that would send $1.45 billion to HBCUs between 2022 and 2026. While this proposal is a step in the right direction, it is far less than what President Joe Biden had promised historically Black institutions just a few months ago. A press release from the White House on March 31 indicates that Biden had originally pledged $55 billion to HBCUs between 2022 and 2026, a 97% increase from what is currently being offered. Fortunately, members of Congress like Rep. Alma Adams are using their platforms to speak out against this dramatic drop in proposed funding.
“If this bill is to be truly transformational and if we are to build our HBCUs back better, then we must ensure that HBCUs receive a fair and equitable piece of the pie,” Rep. Alma Adams said, according to The Washington Post.
“We cannot repeat mistakes that have been made in other federal programs where they are forced to compete with institutions that do not share the same legacy of discrimination and neglect.”
Moving forward, The Washington Post reports that lawmakers are working to resolve the lack of HBCU funding included in the current proposal. Advocates like Harry L. Williams of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund are optimistic about what the final outcome will be.
“Education and Labor Chairman Bobby Scott has long been a champion for HBCUs and we are confident that he will make the proper adjustments,” Williams said.
Reports of HBCUs being denied funding are not new by any stretch of the imagination. From 2003 to 2015, the American Council on Education found that funding for private HBCUs declined by 42%. In 2018, the Government Accountability Office found that public HBCUs had deferred maintenance backlogs of $67 million.
“This country has benefited so much from HBCUs. Increase the investment, so we can increase the return,” Virginia State University President Makola M. Abdullah wrote in a letter to Congress.
"In order for us to be able to move forward...we need to make up for the decades of underfunding.”