Gram community has high expectations for Biden/Harris administration on HBCU funding

Students and graduates at Grambling State University have high expectations from the Biden administration in regards to the betterment of all historically black colleges and universities (HBCUS).

President Joseph Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were officially sworn in as of Jan. 20.

The Vice President holds a special place in the hearts of many African American HBCU students.

Harris is an HBCU graduate and, according to the 19th, she is the first HBCU graduate to make it to the White House. She graduated from Howard University in 1986 with a political science and economics degree.

Harris is also the first female to hold the country’s vice presidency as well as the first person of Black or Indian ethnicity to hold the office. 

Grambling students and alums said they are hopeful Biden and Harris come through for HBCUs.

Currently there are 107 HBCUS in the United States which serve around 228,000 students.

LaShai Adams, a Cyber Security major, said funding for HBCUs like Grambling is a concern Biden and Harris should put to rest.

“Better funding (is needed) for all HBCUS not just Spelman and Howard,” Adams said. “We also need more advertising and to be acknowledged for our greatness and success that our universities provide.”

HBCUS have a long history of being severely underfunded on a government level. 

“The legacy of racism in the treatment of black colleges is apparent,” Adama Harris wrote in The Atlantic on the topic of HBCU funding.

This leaves the funding gap to fall on the backs of students. HBCU students graduate with a higher student debt load than the average college student.

“(HBCUs could) benefit from better financial aid which would allow more students to attend our universities,” GSU alum Djhonel Lewis said.

Erykah Jones, a senior majoring in kinesiology, said Biden and Harris could immediately open up stimulus funding for more students. 

“(Biden and Harris) could give more Cares Act money along with making more college students eligible for the stimulus package,” Jones said.

The Cares Act, passed in March 2020, provided emergency financial aid grants to students directly affected by the disruption of campus operations due to the Coronavirus pandemic. However, college students claimed as dependents on their parent’s taxes were deemed ineligible to receive the stimulus package.