Several HBCUs Say They Need Additional Funding to Upgrade Technology for Online Shift

Several historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) this week said they need additional federal funding during the pandemic to bridge the digital divide their institutions’ students face and to shore up technology to conduct online classes, reported BroadbandBreakfast and the Montgomery Advertiser.Online 4727942 1920

At a discussion Monday, hosted by the Federal Communications Commission, many HBCU college representatives said the abrupt shift to online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic has squeezed their institutions’ already overstretched budgets. In addition, because many HBCU students come from low-income backgrounds, they don’t have access to high speed internet or, in some cases, even access to an internet connection.

The federal coronavirus stimulus package allocated a total of $928.6 billion in funding for HBCUs. But one of the panelists at Monday’s discussion, Rep. Alma Adams (D-N.C.), called for the provision of $10 million in additional funds for HBCUs so they can upgrade technology and so their students don’t get left behind due to an online learning semester.

“The money we are receiving from Congress, it did not scratch the surface on where these institutions are and will be because of this pandemic,” said Alabama State University President Quinton Ross. “We were already strapped. This really took us for a loop.”

In addition, HBCUs need more money to ensure their students can access courses they put online.

“We know that many of our students have smart phones,” said Norfolk State University President Javaune Adams-Gaston. “That’s a start. But you really cannot do the work that is required or perform at the level that we expect unless you have the devices as well as the internet connectivity to do just that.”