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State lawmaker fighting for HBCU funding parity

Rep. Jarvis Johnson says State’s funding formula is too complicated.

DALLAS — When it comes to State funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), State Rep. Jarvis Johnson says good luck understanding the formula used to determine the dollars.

“That’s a Greek book made up of Greek letters that you don’t understand. And I think it was done purposely,” Rep. Johnson said on Inside Texas Politics.

HBCU funding in Texas recently took center stage at the state’s first HBCU conference held in Austin earlier this month. The event included campus leaders, lawmakers and students. Organizers said it was an opportunity for folks to learn more about HBCUs and highlight the need for more funding and resources.

There are nine HBCUs in Texas, but only two are public, four-year universities: Texas Southern University in Houston and Prairie View A&M, about an hour outside of Houston. The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board released a report in 2019 that said those two HBCUs received around $2,500 less in State funding per student than the state’s two flagship universities: the University of Texas at Austin (UT) and Texas A&M University. That funding gap reportedly doubled in 2021.

Watch the segment below:

“That formula funding was only created for those flagship institutions and asking Prairie View and Texas Southern to do more with less,” Rep. Johnson said. “There is no way Texas Southern and Prairie View will be able to reach the level of research dollars, the levels of opportunities for doctoral candidates, all of those formula funding mechanisms that are in place.”

The Democrat from Houston said metrics such as graduation rates, retention rates and the number of research institutions a university may have are also included in the funding formula. But Rep. Johnson said HBCUs often have a different dynamic taking place that can affect a metric such as attendance or graduation rate. So, he told WFAA he will continue to fight for funding parity in the legislature.

“They’re having students that oftentimes are first generation college students. They also have students that have to work full-time jobs and then go to school," Johnson said. "They have students that are also providing for their families. So forth and so on."

   

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