WASHINGTON (CBS19 NEWS) -- More than a dozen governors, including Governor Glenn Youngkin, are being asked about funding disparities at certain higher education institutions.

According to a release, Secretaries Miguel Cardona and Tom Vilsack of the Departments of Education and Agriculture sent letters Monday to 16 governors.

The letters are highlighting a more than $12 billion disparity in funding between land-grant Historically Black Colleges and Universities and their non-HBCU land-grant peers in the same states.

“Unacceptable funding inequities have forced many of our nation’s distinguished Historically Black Colleges and Universities to operate with inadequate resources and delay critical investments in everything from campus infrastructure to research and development to student support services,” said Cardona. “I am continually inspired by all that HBCUs have achieved despite having to punch above their weight. Our HBCUs graduate a huge share of our nation’s Black educators, doctors, engineers, judges, and lawyers. These institutions and the talented, diverse students they serve must have equitable funding in order to reach their full potential and continue driving innovation.”

“Some of the brightest minds and most impactful advancements in food and agriculture have taken root in our country’s 1890 land-grant universities, and I’m incredibly proud of the partnership USDA maintains with these invaluable institutions. We need governors to help us invest in their states’ HBCUs at the equitable level their students deserve, and reflective of all they contribute to our society and economy,” said Vilsack. “The documented discrepancies are a clarion call for governors to act without delay to provide significant support for the 1890 land-grant institutions in their respective states. Failing to do so will have severe and lasting consequences to the agriculture and food industry at a time when it must remain resilient and competitive.”

There are HBCU land-grant institutions in 18 states.

The release says Delaware and Ohio equitably fund their HBCUs.

However, it adds there are funding discrepancies in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, North and South Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.

The Second Morrill Act of 1890 required states opening a second land-grant university to serve Black students to provide an equitable distribution of state funds between the First Morrill Act of 1862 and the 1890 institutions.

The release says inequitable funding of the 1890 institutions in the states with discrepancies ranging from $172 million to $2.1 billion, which causes severe financial gaps.

It adds such funds could have supported vital infrastructure and student services, which would have better positioned the recipient universities to compete for grants to increase education opportunities for their students.

The letter to Youngkin says the funding gap between Virginia State University and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University is more than $277 million in the last 30 years alone.

The U.S. Departments of Education and Agriculture have offered to work with each state’s budget office to look into funding data and work to bring balance to the investments.

The letters sent to the governors are available here.