From Forbes …
Between 1987 (the earliest year for which comprehensive data are available) and 2020, the 18 Black schools were underfunded by an aggregate of $12.8 billion, adjusted for inflation (see table). Over those 33 years, Tennessee State University received $1.9 billion less than it should have, had it been funded at the same per-student level as the University of Tennessee. The worst off? North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University (NC A&T) in Greensboro, founded in 1891. Since 1987, it has been underfunded by an inflation-adjusted total of $2.8 billion. It’s not uniformly bad news. Schools in two states—Delaware and Ohio—were not underfunded at all.
To some extent, the greater state funding of the predominantly white land-grant schools can be explained by those institutions’ strength as research universities. A handful of states, like North Carolina, reward that strength with extra dollars earmarked for research. In 2020, for example, the North Carolina legislature gave NC State, just 7% of whose 32,000 students are Black, an extra $79 million for research (15% of its total state appropriation, less than 5% of its $1.6 billion operating budget). By contrast, it gave NC A&T, the Black land-grant school—the nation’s largest HBCU, with 11,700 students—just $9.5 million for research, amounting to 10% of its state appropriation. But explaining away funding disparities because of research money is a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy: The white institutions’ ability to host research in their gleaming, state-of-the-art laboratories is the result of decades of generous funding by the states, while researchers at counterpart HBCUs have been starved for cash.
The single worst instance of annual underfunding for any school was in 2020, when the North Carolina legislature appropriated A&T $95 million, $8,200 less per student than the $16,400 per student it gave to NC State. (The state legislature is allocating an additional $11 million to A&T in 2022, mostly to support doctoral programs and agricultural research.) Instructional expenses per student at NC State: $15,681, versus $7,631 for the HBCU. Even Student Services, which includes admissions and the registrar’s office, are better funded at the predominantly white school. At NC State it amounts to $1,342 per Wolfpacker versus $726 per Aggie.