LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP/KARK) — Historically Black land-grant universities in Arkansas and 15 other states have missed out on $12.6 billion in funding over the last three decades, according to the Biden administration.

Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack sent letters to the governors of each state asking them to increase funding, news outlets reported.

The letter to Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders claimed the disparity in Arkansas represented $330.9 million being underfunded over the last 30 years for the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.

“These funds could have supported infrastructure and student services and would have better positioned the university to compete for research grants,” the letter stated. “University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff 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.” 

Cardona stated the funding gaps create inequity.

“Unacceptable funding inequities have forced many of our nation’s distinguished historically Black colleges and universities to operate with inadequate resources and delay critical investments in everything from campus infrastructure to research and development to student support services,” Cardona said in a Monday statement.

Letters were also sent to governors of Alabama,  Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.

The nation’s land-grant universities were founded in the 19th century on federal land to further agricultural instruction and research. Federal law requires states to provide an equitable distribution of state funding for all land-grant universities, but that hasn’t happened with many historically Black ones, a new analysis found.

The federal agencies used data from the National Center for Education Statistics and found the funding disparity in 16 of 18 states that house Black land grants. Delaware and Ohio provided equitable funding, the analysis found.

The governor’s office responded to the letter citing education support.

“The Governor is proud of the rich tradition at UAPB and will continue to support the Golden Lions,” she stated. “A threatening, politically charged letter from the Biden administration bureaucrats won’t change her commitment to working with our partners in the legislature to continue supplying all students with high quality education and learning opportunities.”

KARK 4 News reached out to UA Pine Bluff for a comment but had not received one as this article was published. This article will be updated if a statement is received.