Shevrin Jones meeting with Joe Biden to talk HBCUs, including his alma mater

Report: FAMU and other HBCUs are drastically underfunded compared to other land grant institutions.

Sen. Shevrin Jones — a barrier-breaking graduate of Florida A&M University (FAMU) — is visiting the White House in his role serving on the President’s Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

President Joe Biden appointed Jones, the first openly gay man elected to the Florida Senate, to serve on the board that regularly meets to develop and share its recommendations to strengthen HBCUs, of which his alma mater is one. Jones will be meeting with Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris Monday, a news release said. 

Jones lauded the Biden administration’s commitment to HBCUs, coming at a time when Black history instruction has become a flashpoint of dissension in the Sunshine State.

“This administration has delivered historic investments to HBCUs, boosting our economy and opportunity in the process,” Jones said. “These investments are critically important, particularly when the state plays games and denies schools the support they need and deserve.”

Just before the Monday meeting, Jones cited a finding in a letter the federal government sent out last week — from U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack — to Gov. Ron DeSantis and 15 other Governors. They noted the underfunding of land grant Black institutions compared to the non-HBCU, land grant counterparts and urged the Governors to make good.

In Florida’s case, the feds found Jones’ alma mater has been shorted nearly $2 billion in state funding since 1987 compared to funding given to the University of Florida.

“It’s long past time that we address this injustice and ensure HBCUs get the resources they need,” Jones said in a prepared statement. “Our students’ and shared future depend on it because when we invest in people and communities, our country is that much stronger.”

The letter from the feds offers to match state grants for FAMU with federal money on a two-to-one basis. 

“We are at an inflection point that will determine our place in the world as leaders,” the letter reads. “We need to solidify our country as the top producer of talent and innovation — demonstrating to the global community that nothing can beat American ingenuity.”

A Florida Politics inquiry to the Governor’s Office was not immediately returned Monday.

Jones highlighted the investments that the Biden administration has made to HBCU community, including:

— $3.6 billion through the American Rescue Plan for financial aid grants for students, campus operations, staffing, and learning during the pandemic.

— $1.6 billion in infrastructure loan forgiveness for 45 public and private HBCUs.

— $1.5 billion to expand academic capacity and provide support for low-income students.

— $2.4 million to support HBCUs that were victimized by bomb threats to their campuses.

For all college and university students, the administration has also delivered the largest increase to Pell Grants in the last decade, $117 billion in student debt cancellation for 3.4 million people through Public Service Loan Forgiveness, and recently launched a new student debt repayment plan that will cut payments for undergraduate borrowers in half.

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected].


  • Rick Whitaker

    September 25, 2023 at 5:59 pm

    joe biden is making decisions that put america in a better place for now and the future. white christian is supposed to be in the past. but grifters and power junkies are trying to revive the worst of the past. i hoe that desantistan voters can turn the page when maga is gone. i can hope.

  • It’s Complicated

    September 26, 2023 at 1:18 pm

    Not sure one can infer much from the fact that UF received $2B more in funding compared to FAMU. UF is THE statutorily designed state university for all-things agriculture and is the lead school on numerous other things. That alone could account for the difference. Not to mention the medical research, technology, engineering, chemistry, materials research that take place at UF.

    It’s worth shining a light on it, but don’t jump to conclusions that something unfair has taken place.

Comments are closed.


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