BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — The Biden administration has sent letters to 16 governors, including Louisiana, calling for them to close the funding gap between Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and other colleges in their states.

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack highlight a $12 billion difference in funding when analyzing land-grant HBCUs and other land-grant educational institutions.

A Monday, Sept. 18, letter to Gov. John Bel Edwards states that.

“Southern University and A & M College, the 1890 land-grant institution in your state, while producing extraordinary graduates that contribute greatly to the state’s economy and the fabric of our nation, has not been able to advance in ways that are on par with Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College, the original Morrill Act of 1862 land-grant institution in your state, in large part due to unbalanced funding.”

According to the letter, using National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Integrated Postsecondary Education Survey (IPEDS) data from 1987 to 2020, equitable funding per student would have led to another $1,126,149,248 being provided to Southern.

“These funds could have supported infrastructure and student services and would have better positioned the university to compete for research grants. Southern University and A & M College has been able to make remarkable strides and would be much stronger and better positioned to serve its students, your state, and the nation if made whole with respect to this funding gap,” Cardon and Vilsack wrote.

Edwards’ office provided a statement from Division of Administration Commissioner Jay Dardenne on Tuesday, Sept. 19: “My office has received the letter from Secretaries Cardona and Visack, but it is unclear where the number comes from or what it is based on. Under Gov. John Bel Edwards’ leadership, historic investments have been made to higher education across the board including with the most recent budget that passed this year. In addition, there has been a sustained commitment to addressing serious inequities in this and many other important areas. This administration has consistently provided the federal funding match requirement for Southern University Ag Center as well as the additional funding to stabilize and sustain Southern University New Orleans. However, we recognize that more work needs to be done to fully fund higher education. The governor has directed us to meet with the secretaries to learn more about the underfunding referenced, and we will certainly share this information as part of our transition report to the new administration.”

BRProud has reached out to Southern University.

This is a developing story and will be updated.