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By: Stacy M. Brown, NNPA

The Biden-Harris Administration has announced a historic milestone in federal funding and investments for historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), surpassing a monumental $16 billion mark from fiscal year 2021 through current data available for FY 2024.

First reported by HBCU Buzz, the unprecedented financial commitment represents a substantial increase from the previously reported over $7 billion, encompassing significant additional actions already undertaken. The total exceeds $16 billion, inclusive of over $11.4 billion allocated between FY2021 and FY2023 through Federal grants, contracting awards, and debt relief tailored specifically for HBCUs.

“President Biden and I have delivered an unprecedented $16 billion to our Nation’s HBCUs. We know that when we invest in the success of our HBCUs, we are investing in the strength of our nation—today and for generations to come,” Vice President Kamala Harris told HBCU Buzz.

President Biden echoed this sentiment, emphasizing the administration’s unwavering commitment to sustaining robust investment efforts in HBCUs throughout the remainder of FY 2024.

Officials said the administration’s dedication to HBCUs underscores their vital role in fostering upward economic mobility in the United States. “For generations, these anchors of our communities have played a pivotal role in building and contributing to America’s leadership at home and abroad,” Vice President Harris remarked, noting her personal experience as a graduate of historically Black Howard University in Northwest, D.C.

President Biden and Vice President Harris said they’ve long recognized the profound impact of HBCUs, and the administration has prioritized furnishing these institutions with the resources necessary to deliver high-quality postsecondary education. With a legacy spanning over 180 years, HBCUs have been instrumental in advancing intergenerational economic mobility for Black families and communities. According to HBCU Buzz, despite comprising only 3% of colleges and universities nationwide, HBCUs play an outsized role in supporting the economic advancement of African Americans.

In addition to over $11 billion provided to HBCUs, the Biden-Harris Administration has provided over $4 billion to support the success of HBCU-enrolled students through:

  • $2.8 billion in need-based grants and other Federal programs, including Pell Grants, Federal Work-Study, and Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, to assist HBCU students in affording a postsecondary education; and
  • Nearly $1.3 billion to support Veterans attending HBCUs through the GI bill and other college, graduate school, and training programs delivered through the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Furtherthe Department of Defense U.S. Air Force established the first-ever HBCU-led University Affiliated Research Center (UARC). The focus of efforts will be on advancing the deployment of autonomous technologies for Air Force missions, with Howard University serving as the project leader and seven other HBCUs providing $90 million in funding over five years. Participating schools include Jackson State University, Tuskegee University, Hampton University, Bowie State University, Norfolk State University, Delaware State University, Florida Memorial University, and Tougaloo College.

Also, the Department of Commerce established the first-ever Connecting-Minority-Communities program delivering funding for 43 HBCUs to purchase broadband internet, purchase equipment, and hire IT personnel to tackle the digital divide impacting HBCUs. Several HBCUs also recently launched an HBCU CHIPS Network in collaboration with the Georgia Institute of Technology to increase the coordination of the resources at the colleges and universities and jointly contribute to the workforce development needs of the semiconductor industry.

Administration officials noted that Chips are critical in powering consumer electronics, automobiles, data centers, critical infrastructure, and virtually all military systems.

“HBCUs produce 40% of all Black engineers in America, 50% of all Black lawyers, 70% of all Black doctors and dentists, and 80% of all Black judges,” President Biden asserted last fall. “And HBCUs are engineers of economic mobility, helping to increase the Black middle class. When the middle class does well, everybody does well. The poor have a road up, and the wealthy still do well, although they’ve got to start paying their taxes. That’s why it’s critical we invest in these universities.”