Virginia Governor Ralph Northam (D) recently announced a two-year budget proposal that will provide record-setting funding to the state’s historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs).
The proposal includes the creation of the state’s first-ever HBCU Opportunity Fund, which would provide scholarships for students at Virginia’s eligible private HBCUs. The fund would also increase tuition assistance and fund operating and construction costs at these schools, bringing the total amount of HBCU state funding to $297 million.
“HBCUs have long been underfunded, and we have worked tirelessly over the past four years to fix that. We are closing the funding gap and making college more accessible to all Virginians,” Northam said in a statement.
Virginia has five HBCUs, the United Negro College Fund reports. According to Northam’s budget breakdown, Virginia Union University and Hampton University will receive $10 million per year. Nearly $277 million of the funding will cover operating costs and building construction at Virginia’s two public HBCUs: Norfolk State University (NSU) and Virginia State University (VSU). The budget will allocate an additional $20 million in 2023 and $20 million in 2024 to NSU and VSU to increase the affordability, according to a press release.
If approved by the state legislature, the proposal will also raise the Tuition Assistance Grant, an award that helps students attend private colleges and universities, from $4,000 to $5,000 per student.
“This new investment permanently changes the way Virginia invests in HBCU’s like Virginia Union and Hampton,” said Hakim Lucas, president of Virginia Union University, in a press statement. “This is a new beginning, and a dramatic step forward.”