When junior Brandon Kirby brought home an award from a national biomedical conference, it was a nice boost for his small college in a dying coal town in the heart of Appalachia.
It also seemed incongruous, given that the conference was for minorities, the college is historically black — and Kirby is white.
So are 82 percent of the students at West Virginia’s Bluefield State College, which nonetheless qualifies for a share of the more than a quarter of a billion dollars a year in special funding the federal government set aside for historically black colleges and universities in 2011, the last year for which figures are available. These schools, known as HBCUs, can also apply for federal loans through the Historically Black College and University Capital Financing Program. Last year, they got $303 million from that program, on top of $1.1 billion in previously approved loans.
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