NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – It’s Tennessee’s only public Historically Black College/University and it’s owed billions, according to the federal government.

It’s why community members met Thursday night, stating now it is time to take action to save Tennessee State University. It’s been a fight some will tell you has been happening for years.

“Yes, you may make the laws, but we are the citizens and actually we’re the ones that are taxpayers, and our voice is important,” said Pastor Chris Jackson of Pleasant Green Baptist Church.

If you ask Jackson, the news isn’t a surprise. For decades, he has watched the university go through its ups and downs.

“TSU is owed a lot of back money, and I believe that is why TSU has not been able to keep up with the other universities that are receiving all of their funds, and then they’re blamed for not having dorm space when you kept back the money from us,” Jackson explained.

On Thursday, inside the Progressive Missionary Baptist Church, it was a call to action.

The meeting was focused on saving the historic institution after the U.S. Education Secretary sent a letter to 16 governors, including Governor Bill Lee, telling them their states have not been properly funding certain HBCUs.

“Not $500 million, not $250 million, for some infrastructure right, we’ve been owed $2.1 billion, and so now I’m sitting here wishing my HBCU could be on this next level, fighting to help us get to where I believe we can be,” said Shaun Wimberly Jr., a senior at TSU.

Many members of the SAVE TSU Community Coalition claim if the school had received the money it was owed, many of the housing problems from this year may not have existed as they looked back to students living in hotels while the university welcomed its largest freshman class.

“They can’t afford to stay in the neighborhood so they have made pathways back to the university, but the university doesn’t have adequate housing, but this has been over years. Go to any other university, MTSU, Austin Peay, you will never see any dorms anywhere near TSU,” Jackson said.