The struggle to alleviate the funding crisis at some Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) could be more of an uphill battle than expected.
HBCUs were hoping that the Biden administration would deliver $45 billion in financial support, but Democratic infighting could reduce that figure to just $2 billion in Biden’s spending plan, the Associated Press reports.
The $35 trillion spending bill included $45 billion for HBCUs and other minority-serving institutions.
However, Democrats disagree about the size of the economic package and where the money should go, according to the AP.
The latest version of the bill allocates $2 billion for educational programs and infrastructure at HBCUs, which could be reduced to competitive grants instead of direct funding.
Roderick L. Smothers, president of Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Ark., a private HBCU, hoped to receive funding from the president’s original package to expand programs for his students. More than 80 percent of them come from low-income families.
He envisioned launching a public health school to train students to help reduce health disparities in the Black community and to help alleviate the state’s nursing shortage.
Biden’s original plan took into account that a legacy of discrimination that placed HBCUs at a competitive disadvantage in securing research funding, The Washington Post has noted.
For decades, the federal government denied funding to HBCUs that it provided to predominantly White schools for infrastructure development and research. State lawmakers followed the same discriminatory pattern over the years.
According to the AP, the cumulative endowment for all HBCUs was just over $3.9 billion in 2019. That is about the same as the University of Minnesota alone.