NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The State of Tennessee owes Tennessee State University at least $2.1 billion in back pay, according to the federal government.

The U.S. Education Secretary sent a letter to 16 governors, including Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, telling them their states haven’t been properly funding certain HBCU’s.

TSU, a land-grant college, is supposed to receive the same amount of funding each year as explained in a law that passes in the late 1800s. However, the U.S. Department of Education said these land-grant HBCU’s are not receiving the amount of funding they are owed.

The department used data from 1987-2020 and found out that these land-grant HBCU’s missed out on a lot of funding. However, the letters pointed out that states are taking measures to fix the issue.

In 2020, Tennessee created a joint land-grant committee to explore how the state could help TSU. After the committee’s work, the governor proposed a $250 million investment for the school.

That $250 million was on top of funding for maintenance and capital projects included in the budget. The investment came after the committee found the state did not match federal land grants as required by law.