Let’s look at the biggest number first. Senator Booker hopes to throw $100 billion at HBCUs and minority-serving institutions (MSIs) in general. Under his plan, he would transform HBCUs into social-activist organizations in “the fight against climate change,”though it remains unclear why being historically black makes them particularly well qualified for this task.
This plan eclipses the spending idea of Senator Sanders, who wants to throw only $15 billion at HBCUs, forgive another billion or two of debt, and double current funding under the Strengthening HBCUs program of Title III of the Higher Education Act of 1965.
Here’s what we’re already spending on HBCUs under Title III. In 2019 Congress gave these 101 institutions $282 million, plus $79 million in “mandatory” money (for which the institutions need to do little but fill out a form), plus $73 million for Historically Black Graduate Institutions (including law and medical schools), plus $9 million for master’s-degree programs. Doubling this amount gives them $443 million more, or an extra $4.43 billion over ten years.