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Missouri lawmakers urge the state to address historic underfunding at Lincoln University

Image of Lincoln University's Soldier Memorial. Green grass in the foreground with blue sky and flowering Spring trees. There are soldier statues leading up to a brown brick building.
Lincoln University
The Biden Administration sent letters to 16 governors, including Missouri Governor Mike Parson, imploring them to look into the historic disparity in funding of HBCUs.

Historically Black land-grant universities and colleges have been underfunded by more than $12 billion nationally compared to their non-HBCU counterparts, according to a recent report by the U.S. Department of Education. That includes Lincoln University in Jefferson City.

Here in Missouri, Lincoln University — a land-grant HBCU — has been underfunded by roughly $360 million over the past 30 years compared to the University of Missouri, according to a new federal report.

The disparity in funding has resulted in millions of dollars of deferred maintenance.

The federal government requires states to match per-student funding to the land grant institutions in order to receive the funding. Missouri has only matched the grants twice in its history — 2022 and 2023 — requiring Lincoln University to pull from other sectors of its budget.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers in Missouri have asked the state to look into the inequality, including House District 74 Representative Kevin Windham Jr.

"Now it's time to start looking back into the past and seeing how we can rectify the issue of underfunding historically," said Windham. "I think that a good first step is having a special committee of the House or joint committee of the legislature and being able to look at these things with a critical eye."

  • Kevin Windham Jr., Missouri State Representative
  • Misty Nunn, Executive Director of University and Alumni Relations at Lincoln University
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Elizabeth Erb is a production intern for KCUR 89.3's Up To Date. She is a graduate of Columbia Journalism School and the University of Minnesota/Guthrie Theater Actor Training Program. You can email her at eerb@kcur.org.
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