Why Biden Cut HBCU Funding - Future Student Effects

Posted by Nailah Herbert in Black EconomicsOctober 18, 2021(Last Updated July 25, 2022)3 min read
Key Takeaways
  • President Biden announced an initial spending plan that allocated $45 billion going to HBCUs to help improve their premises.
  • The latest proposal only has $2 billion going to HBCUs, causing concerns amongst the schools and students that the low amount will result in education inequality.
  • Though there have been previous grants given to HBCUs, more economic resources are needed to ensure all HBCU students will have access to vital resources and an equal education.
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The Biden-Harris administration has advocated for the necessity to support Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Kamala Harris, United States Vice President, attended the prominent HBCU, Howard University located in Washington D.C.


Image Credit: Eric Glenn / Shutterstock.com


Build Back Better Plan Cuts HBCU Funding 


President Biden announced that the Build Back Better Plan would push $45 billion of their $3.5 trillion budget toward funding HBCUs. The funding was expected to go toward a plethora of issues and plans to rebuild HBCUs like “advancing educational equity, excellence, and economic opportunity” for HBCUs nationwide. However, after internal congressional debates about the spending plan, certain revisions were made to lower the total spending costs for HBCUs.


HBCU Students Speak Out 


Instead of the HBCUs receiving $45 billion, they are expected only to receive $2 billion, which would be divided up amongst all 107 HBCUs. Students at Howard University were disappointed with the cutting in spending for HBCUs. Kevin Vaughn, a Howard University student spoke on the matter, “It just again speaks to a testament on how Black students are treated in America. We’re the first to have everything shut off, we’re the first to have everything taken from us, and it’s just setting us up to fail in the future.” 


Vaughn goes on to say that there are certain buildings that are falling apart. He goes on to explain that due to the lack of economic resources, his school is unable to make large-scale repairs. Another student, Gabriella Walls, mentioned how the cutback was demoralizing for African American students, “Education in this country gets the shorthand of the stick at any point and because we’re Black schools I feel like they think of us as disposable, and that should never be the case.” 


Economic Challenges Black Students Face 


Historically, many Black students tend to have more economic hurdles than their White peers. One of the more significant financial problems that Black students face deals with student loan debt. Black students are going into a significant amount of debt while in pursuit of a college degree. The Build Back Better Plan’s initial proposal would have assisted many HBCUs in areas such as financial support like scholarships, rebuilding school infrastructure, and allowing a pipeline for HBCU grads to work in federal government positions. Yet, HBCUs are at a disadvantage as their resources are limited, which hinders the quality of education and financial suffering for its students.


Image credit: White House Photo / Alamy Stock Photo


President Biden has completed other plans to aid HBCUs, such as providing debt relief to 45 public and private HBCUs, the Department of Education giving a $1 billion grant to help increase the number of students accepted, and building a health care pipeline accessible to HBCU graduates. Although these programs are a step in the right direction, the significant cutback on the funding that HBCUs were to receive is a large step back. 


In the past, HBCUs have always been significantly underfunded due to lack of student enrollment, low retention rates, the absence of donations, and lack of funding by local and national authorities. Several HBCUs were built in the 1800s to early 1900s, which have cost many of those buildings thousands of dollars in proper maintenance and upkeep. Therefore, whenever these schools receive any revenue from tuition and other funding, it generally goes towards covering the operating costs and school repairs. Unfortunately, as the majority goes towards repairs, these schools are unable to invest money into new, modern programs to attract prospective students. 


The initial $45 billion in funding from the Build Back Better would have helped HBCUs immensely with receiving more resources. However, the cutback negatively affects current and future attendees of HBCUs. If the institutions do not receive the much-needed funding, it will become more difficult for them to keep their doors open.  


President Biden's initial budget plan for HBCUs could have made a significant difference. Though their funding was slashed, the White House released a recent statement regarding their continued support for HBCUs despite the nationwide backlash. President Joe Biden still plans to aid HBCUs with government funding and other avenues of support. 


What are your thoughts on the Build Back Better plan’s to cut HBCU funding? Let us know in the comments below.

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