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State may owe Tennessee State University over $500 million

Several lawmakers brought to the state’s attention that there was a deficit in Tennessee State University's decades of Land Grant funding.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The General Assembly’s Joint Land Grant Institution Funding Study Committee met Tuesday to further look at how much the state owes Tennessee State University, after decades of a state funding deficit.

Tuesday’s hearing revealed the deficit is approximately $544 million.

The committee was created after several lawmakers brought to the state’s attention that there was a deficit in Tennessee State University's decades of Land Grant funding.

In the 1800s, the federal government gave land to both TSU and the University of Tennessee to create and maintain colleges and universities for agriculture.

The funds were supposed to be matched by the state. UT received their matched state funding, but TSU did not, resulting in a shortage of funding around $544 million.

Representative Harold Love, the committee’s chairperson, is pushing for changes so the university can recoup those dollars.

“These numbers didn’t come out of the sky. These numbers were taken from the state budget books and one thing we know about the state budget is that if something is not in the budget as being funded it’s not funded,” said Rep. Love.

Dr. Glenda Glover, TSU president, attended the hearing. Glover said she’s glad the state is looking into it because the university had to make up for the funding in order to fund various initiatives.

She said there have been past ills among Historically Black Colleges and Universities across the country when it comes to land grant matches.

“We could not recruit properly. There’s research dollars that we weren’t able to get and use. So we had to find a way to make ends meet without getting the dollars required to match,” said Dr. Glover.

The joint committee will hold more sessions in the summer to continue fine-tuning the exact dollar amount owed to TSU.