FACT CHECK: Image Makes Misleading Comparison Between Donald Trump And Joe Biden’s HBCU Funding

Elias Atienza | Fact Check Reporter

A viral Instagram post claims President Joe Biden defunded historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) by $30 billion, whereas former President Donald Trump permanently funded them.

Verdict: Misleading

Trump in late 2019 did sign a bill permanently authorizing about $255 million in annual funding to HBCUs and other minority-serving institutions. While the amount of new funding proposed for such institutions in the Biden-backed Build Back Better Act has decreased during the negotiation process in Congress, Biden has not cut existing funding to HBCUs.

Fact Check:

The Instagram post attempts to compare Trump and Biden’s handling of HBCU government funding, saying, “Say what you want about Trump… but he permanently funded HBCUs. Biden defunded them by $30 billion dollars. The black community was manipulated for votes.”

Trump did sign the FUTURE Act into law in December 2019. That bipartisan bill permanently authorized $255 million a year for HBCUs and other minority-serving educational institutions, according to Forbes. (RELATED: Did Joe Biden Cancel $250 Million For Historically Black Colleges And Universities?)

The post’s claim about Biden “defunding” HBCUs by $30 billion, however, doesn’t hold up under scrutiny. The $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill, a key piece of Biden’s domestic agenda that is still being negotiated in Congress, originally proposed $45 billion in new, additional funding to HBCUs and minority-serving institutions, according to the Associated Press. That new funding has since been reduced to $2 billion in a more recent version of the legislation, the outlet reported Oct. 5.

“The Build Back Better Act proposes a new $2 billion fund for HBCUs and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) research infrastructure,” Victor Santos, senior director for government relations at the public HBCU-representing Thurgood Marshall College Fund, told Check Your Fact via email. “This is a brand new pot of money that has not previously existed. The bill also includes a $27.5 billion tuition-assistance fund for students at HBCUs and MSIs.”

Santos added that “there has been a decrease based upon the original proposals set forth by the administration, but again, these were not existing programs but new programs and the original figures presented were aspirational goals.” (RELATED: Would Joe Biden’s Build Back Better Agenda ‘Cost Zero Dollars’?)

“In addition, dollars would have been and still are competitive grants between HBCUs and MSIs. There are 569 Hispanic Serving Institutions or HSIs (one type of MSI) and only 101 HBCUs. HSIs include schools like the University of Miami, University of California, and the University of Texas. It is likely that even from the larger number originally proposed aspirationally – HBCUs would have only received a small percentage,” Santos went on to say. “The Build Back Better Act also includes a $1.45 billion increase in mandatory appropriations for HBCUs and MSIs over 10 years.”

Walter M. Kimbrough, president of Dillard University, called the “$30 billion HBCU cut” claim a “lie” and said “there has not been a cut in funding” in an Oct. 5 tweet thread. Dillard University is an HBCU.

“Fact: ‘Each year, the federal government disperses about $1 billion to HBCUs through a mix of 15 programs such as Pell Grants and research and development contracts.’ You CAN’T cut 30 from 1. Simple math,” Kimbrough said in one tweet.

The White House on Oct. 9 put out a fact sheet detailing its “Investments and Support for Historically Black Colleges and Universities,” including requesting a “total of $887 million for HBCU-specific funding in Higher Education Act (HEA) Title III funds” in Biden’s fiscal year 2022 budget and providing “over $4 billion in relief funding to HBCUs” through the American Rescue Plan.

Elias Atienza

Fact Check Reporter
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