Southern States Withheld $57 Million in Mandatory Land Grant Funding to HBCUs

A new report by the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities says that 10 southern states have withheld nearly $57 million dollars in mandated state appropriations to more than half of the federally designated 1890 Land Grant historically Black colleges and universities over the last two years.

The report outlines disparities in states’ matching funding for the United States Department of Agriculture to historically Black 1890 colleges and universities and predominantly white 1862 colleges universities. Between 2010 and 2012, HBCUs received more than $244 million from the USDA for research and cooperative extension development, while states matched just over $188 million.

The congressional mandate for matched funding to historically Black land grant institutions does not impose penalties for states who cannot or refuse to equitably fund the schools, but requires HBCUs to match the funds up to 50 percent to keep the federal allocation. Black colleges are eligible to apply for a waiver of the requirement, a measure that more than 50 percent of HBCU Land Grant schools have used regularly since 2008.

“When the state does not match the funds, the university is on the hook to provide the money back to the USDA,” says Dr. John M. Lee Jr., Vice President for the APLU Office of Access and Success. “There’s no mechanism now to make states accountable if they don’t match the funds. In fact, it presents a big problem for those HBCUs that want to pursue other USDA grants. If their state legislatures aren’t matching annual funding, and a particular grant requires matching dollars from state governments, some Black colleges may be hesitant to go for that kind of grant.”

According to the report, Texas withheld more than $12 million to Prairie View A&M University over the two year period, and several states, including North Carolina, West Virginia, Arkansas, Kentucky, South Carolina, Missouri and Florida had HBCUs to receive less than 80 percent in matched funds.

APLU outlined four recommendations to end the funding disparities to land grant HBCUs, with two of the more prominent measures asking state legislatures to ensure fair funding to Black and predominantly white schools by way of legislative line items, and for the federal government to incentivize one-to-one matching by states to historically Black colleges.

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