NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Land Grant Colleges Search For Funds

July 5, 2001

The Morrill Act was signed into law by Abraham Lincoln in 1862. It granted 30,000 acres of federal land to each state for each of its members of Congress, which was to be used to build universities and establish an endowment for them.

But the nation's 105 land-grant colleges or universities are currently feeling the cold wind of tight state budgets and are not receiving the funds to which they feel entitled. So they are raising student tuitions and approaching private sources in their quest for more money.

  • Altogether they educate about 1.3 million students and about one-quarter of them are now private institutions.
  • The public universities now get only about 15 percent to 30 percent of their funding from their states.
  • The schools' officials argue that they need significantly greater funding to meet rapidly rising costs, and technology and health-care expenses.
  • Many are wary of too great a dependence on the private sector for support, claiming that would come with strings attached.

A group called the Kellogg Commission -- composed of the presidents of some of the institutions plus other interested parties -- is proposing a federal bill called the "Millennial Partnership Act." If it becomes law, it would provide more than $1 billion a year in new federal money -- and as much again from the states.

Source: "An Old Dream in Trouble," Economist, June 2, 2001.


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