Saint Augustine’s University Faces Battle with IRS, Risks Being Shut Down

Saint Augustine is facing the potential loss of accreditation after receiving a tax lien of more than $7 million. The IRS placed the lien against the university, citing unpaid payroll taxes, which has put the university’s financial stability and future at risk. Due to the IRS debt, Saint Augustine’s interim president, Marcus Burgess, and the entire staff have been working without compensation since February 2024, which has plunged the school into a debt of $32 million. Many HBCUs have faced financial and legal challenges recently. HBCUs in both Tennessee and Mississippi have faced opposition from lawmakers who have attempted to shut down or undermine historically black colleges. 

Saint Augustine’s accreditation is currently on hold, but if the school loses accreditation, a significant portion of its students will lose their financial aid. The university must quickly raise at least $32 million to remain operational. The University’s President stated, “We need capital, and we need cash. I don’t want to have to sell any of our land. In the Black and African American communities, we know how hard it’s been to get this land.”

For decades, states have underfunded HBCUs. An analysis conducted by the U.S. Department of Education found that the government owes billions to HBCUs that have been withheld due to institutional racism. Although Saint Augustine is in a dire situation, the university plans to fight to maintain its accreditation and remain operational. 

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