More than five dozen educators at historically Black colleges and universities across the country have joined forces in an effort to encourage lawmakers to pass "Build Back Better" legislation. If such legislation was passed, HBCUs would receive the much-needed funding that they have requested throughout the most recent presidential campaign and early stages of the Biden administration. To highlight the importance of such funding, the group of 65 HBCU presidents pointed out that their schools account for 20% of Black college graduates and contribute nearly $16 billion to the GDP each year, but they receive less than 1% of federal funding for higher education.
"For more than a century, America’s HBCUs have provided educational excellence and access for some of our most vulnerable populations. While constituting only 3% of all colleges and universities, we still graduate nearly 20% of all African American students and contribute nearly $16 billion to the GDP each year, yet we have traditionally received less than 1% of federal funding for higher education," the letter reads.
"Though we have all persevered and continue to provide high-quality, low-cost education for ALL, the trend of financial inequity is ultimately unsustainable for what we believe are some of the nation’s most important institutions of higher education."
Thus far, HBCUs have received $3.7 billion in funding from the American Rescue Plan and approximately $1.6 billion in debt relief. While helpful, HBCUs are seeking a "sustained, intentional effort to correct nearly 200 years of inequity."
"Recently, there has been a consistent focus by the Administration and Congress on correcting the historic underfunding of these great institutions. The American Rescue Plan (ARP) and other pandemic relief programs have delivered $3.7 billion to HBCUs. Additionally, 45 HBCUs (13 public and 32 private institutions) have received approximately $1.6 billion in debt relief. But it requires a sustained, intentional effort to correct nearly 200 years of inequity," the letter continues.
"Build Back Better invests $10 billion for HBCUs, HSIs, and MSIs to build greater institutional capacity. This funding includes an unprecedented $6 billion increase in the mandatory programs at the Department of Education under Titles III and V – a five-fold increase from amounts that our institutions have received annually through these funding streams. Another $4 billion is provided for research and infrastructure development through competitive program grants – $3 billion from the Department of Education and $1 billion from the Department of Agriculture will become available for HBCUs to compete against like institutions."