The state of Georgia owes Fort Valley State University over $600 million, according to new federal lawsuit. On Oct. 24, the lawsuit against the State of Georgia and the Board of Regents for the University System was filed on behalf of the HBCU.
The lawsuit states that Georgia did not comply with funding standards under the Morrill Act of 1890. The act mandated that states either consider Black students equally or found separate land-grant schools. As a result, per-student funding for HBCUs should be equal to per-student funding for PWI schools.
If Georgia had followed the law, Fort Valley State University would have received $603 million over the past 30 years.
Former Fort Valley State University students are plaintiffs in the lawsuit and share information on how the school lacked resources.
The lawsuit comes one month after the Biden Administration sent a letter to Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp about the underfunding of the HBCU. U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack wrote the letter.
“Fort Valley State University, the 1890 land-grant institution in your state, while producing extraordinary graduates that contribute greatly to the state’s economy and the fabric of our nation, has not been able to advance in ways that are on par with University of Georgia, the original Morrill Act of 1862 land-grant institution in your state, in large part due to unbalanced funding,” Cardona and Vilsack wrote.
Cardona and Vilsack also wrote that federal officials will work with the state to help provide more funding.
“We are at an inflection point that will determine our place in the world as leaders. We need to solidify our country as the top producer of talent and innovation – demonstrating to the global community that nothing can beat American ingenuity. The state that serves as our nation’s economic engine for the next generation is sure to be one that fully realizes all its assets and is committed to ensuring that opportunity is equally distributed. Given the career opportunities that will be available due to recent bipartisan federal investments for key industries, strengthening these universities to provide tomorrow’s workforce will enhance your state’s economic viability. The Departments of Education and Agriculture, working with your state budget office, would welcome hosting a workshop to fully examine the funding data that we shared in this letter,” Cardona and Vilsack wrote.
Other HBCUs that were underfunded include Alabama A&M University, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Florida A&M University, Kentucky State University, Southern University and A&M College (Louisiana), University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Alcorn State University (Mississippi), Lincoln University (Missouri), Langston University (Oklahoma), South Carolina State University, Tennessee State University, Prairie View A&M University (Texas), Virginia State University, and North Carolina A&T State University.
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