NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WZTV) —A new report shows Tennessee State University could be owed anywhere from $150 million to $544 million from the state.
Thereportlooks at overall funding and land-grant funding from TSU and the University of Tennessee since the 1950s.
"We have to acknowledge that TSU did not get their funding," Sen. Brenda Gilmore said during the hearing Monday.
While data isn't available for every year, organizers say it paints a picture of funding for the two schools - then compares where TSU may have been shortchanged.
The column in blue is the current formula that they use to pay TSU their land grant money and red is the historical formula: a 75/25 split between TSU and UT. The historical was never changed, but a new formula adopted
“Every department, every agency kept not doing what they were supposed to do and we’re trying to fix that.” - Rep. Love
“It’s a lot to digest and seeing this number it’s a lot for us to take on," Rep. Harold Love said. "But I do want us to work through this process as much as we can.”
While lawmakers discuss missing funding to TSU - what's not clear at this point is how it will be rectified or if it will mean changes in the future.
"We have to acknowledge that TSU did not get their funding," Sen. Brenda Gilmore said. "This is not pitting TSU against UT. It's just trying to get some equal funding, equity funding, for both of the schools."
Back in 1913, the General Assembly established a 75/25 split between land grants funding for the schools.
"That was based on the population of the state at the time," Rep. Love said. "The ratio of white students to Black students."
But reports say that's seldom been followed.
“TSU didn’t always receive their fair share of the 75/25 in the past,” Sen. Richard Briggs (R-Knoxville) said. “What we’re left with right now, is we want to continue to draw down all the federal dollars that we can for this.”
TSU and UT are Tennessee's only colleges available for this funding.
And while some discuss if TSU should get back funding and how much, others propose to make changes for the future.
"We need to look at from this point forward to do that," .Rep. Chris Todd (R-Jackson) said.
This could include an even deeper dive into the schools, including taking another look at enrollment, programs and other things to decide how to move forward with funding.
“If we decide today what ratio is going to be, that’s going to affect UT’s funding,” Rep. Love noted.
One thing is clear from the meeting on Monday: There is still a long way to go.
"Today's meeting was a very crucial step in the Committee's work to investigate the funding arrearage amount for Tennessee State University," Rep. Love said. "It is my hope that we can put a plan in place to address this in the very near future."