Image Credit: Facebook / Tennessee State University
The Center Square [By Jon Styf] –
A letter from the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Agriculture claims that Tennessee State University has been underfunded by $2.1 billion in the past 30 years alone.
The letter was part of 16 sent to state governors saying that 18 combined Historically Black Colleges and Universities have been underfunded by a combined $12 billion compared to other land grant institutions in their states.
The letter to Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee acknowledged the state has begun addressing the funding issues in recent years but said there has been a notable disparity in funding compared to the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.
“These funds could have supported infrastructure and student services and would have better positioned the university to compete for research grants,” the letter said. “Tennessee State University has been able to make remarkable strides and would be much stronger and better positioned to serve its students, your state, and the nation if made whole with respect to this funding gap.”
For years, Tennessee State did not receive promised state match funding, which was supposed to be equal to the amount of federal funds Tennessee State received as a Land Grant Institution.
“Unacceptable funding inequities have forced many of our nation’s distinguished Historically Black Colleges and Universities to operate with inadequate resources and delay critical investments in everything from campus infrastructure to research and development to student support services,” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a statement. “I am continually inspired by all that HBCUs have achieved despite having to punch above their weight.”
The federal letter suggests Tennessee significantly alters its secondary education funding moving forward.
“Given the large amount of state funding that is owed to Tennessee State University, it would be ambitious to address the funding disparity over the course of several years in the state budget,” the letter said. “It might very well be your desire to do so, which we wholeheartedly support. Yet, if an ambitious timetable is not a possibility, we suggest a combination of a substantial state allocation toward the 1890 deficit combined with a forward-looking budget commitment for a two-to-one match of federal land-grant funding for these institutions in order to bring parity to funding levels.”
About the Author: Jon Styf, The Center Square Staff Reporter – Jon Styf is an award-winning editor and reporter who has worked in Illinois, Texas, Wisconsin, Florida and Michigan in local newsrooms over the past 20 years, working for Shaw Media, Hearst and several other companies. Follow Jon on Twitter @JonStyf.