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Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences

Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences

Land Grant & Sea Grant:

A Timeline of Federal Laws Affecting Public Higher Education and Extension


  • Northwest Ordinance is passed, authorizing the sale of public land for support of education, thus establishing the land-grant principle.


  • First Morrill Act is passed and signed by President Abraham Lincoln, donating public lands to the several states, the sale of which is for the "endowment, support, and maintenance of at least one col- lege where the leading object shall be, without excluding other scientific and classical studies and including military tactics, to teach such branches of learning as are related to agriculture and the mechanic arts, in order to promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes in the several pursuits and professions in life."


  • The Hatch Act is passed, mandating the creation of agricultural experiment stations for scientific research.


  • The Second Morrill Act is passed, providing further endowment for colleges. Part of this funding is to be used for institutions for black students, leading to the creation of 17 historically black land-grant colleges.


  • Nelson Amendment to the Morrill Acts of 1862 and 1890 is passed, providing further increased appropriations to land-grant institutions.


  • Benefits of Second Morrill Act and the Nelson Amendment extended to Puerto Rico.


  • The Smith-Lever Act is passed, providing federal support for land-grant institutions to offer educational programs to enhance the application of useful and practical information beyond their campuses through cooperative extension efforts with states and local communities.


  • Clark-McNary Act. Section 5 of this Act provided funds (on a matching basis by the individual states) for cooperative farm-forestry work.


  • Capper-Ketcham Act. This provided for the further development of agricultural extension work at the 1862 land-grant colleges and that future funds be allocated "in addition to and not a substitute for" those made available in the Smith-Lever Act of 1914.


  • Alaska Act of 1929. This extended the benefits of the Hatch Act and the Smith-Lever Act to the Territory of Alaska.


  • Puerto Rico Act. This coordinated the agricultural-experiment station work and to extend the benefits of the Hatch and Smith-Lever Act to the Territory of Puerto Rico.


  • Congress creates the National Youth Administration to enable college students to earn money by performing educationally useful tasks and to continue their studies.


  • The Bankhead-Jones Act adds to annual appropriations for land-grant institutions. This extended the scope of research conducted under the Hatch Act and to provide for the future development of Cooperative Agricultural Extension work and to provide for the further endowment and support of 1862 and 1890 land-grant colleges.


  • The General Equivalency Diploma (GED) program and the Military Evaluations Programs for veterens who left school to serve in World War II are established.


  • The Servicemen's Readjustment Act (G.I. Bill of Rights), Public Law 346. This provided for the higher education of veterans.


  • The Bankhead-Flannagan Act furthers the development of cooperative extension work in agri- culture and home economics.


  • Congress passes the Fulbright Act (Public Law 584) to enable Americans to study and teach abroad.


  • The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is established, which among its many other activities, provides international exchange opportunities for American scholars and administrators.


  • Agricultural Marketing Act. This extended authorized extension programs in marketing, transportation, distribution of agricultural products outside the Smith-Lever formula, but states were required to match Federal funds.


  • The U.S. Information and Educational Exchange Act (the Smith-Mundt Act) provides for the international exchange of teachers, students, lecturers and other specialists.


  • Clarke-McNary Amendment. This authorized USDA to cooperate with land-grant colleges in aiding farmers through advice, education, demonstration, etc., in establishing, renewing, protecting, and managing wood lots, etc., and in harvesting, utilizing, and marketing the products thereof.


  • Point Four Program is enacted by Congress (the Foreign Economic Assistance Act, subsequently called the International Cooperation Administration, then renamed the Agency for International Development, or AID).


  • Congress creates the National Science Foundation (NSF). 1950 - The Land-Grant Endowment Funds Bill protects federal and private endowments from unilateral federal action to divert them from the purposes for which they were granted.


  • Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act (Korean G.I. Bill of Rights) is passed.


  • Smith-Lever Act Amendment. This simplified and consolidated ten separate laws relating to Extension. Established new funding procedures based on rural/urban population formula and amounts. Repealed the Capper-Ketcham Act and the two Bankhead-Jones Acts of 1935 and 1945. Inserted "and subjects relating thereto" after agriculture and home economics and inserted reference to necessary printing and distribution of information.


  • Smith-Lever Amendment. This authorized work with disadvantaged farms and farm families and authorized funds for Extension outside the traditional funding "formula."


  • National Defense Education Act (NDEA) provides college student loans, graduate fellowships and aid for the improvement in the teaching of science, mathematics and modern languages.


  • Land-grant status for the University of Hawaii establishes a new precedent. Since there is no longer adequate federal land to donate for the creation of an endowment, the University of Hawaii is given a $ 6 million endowment in lieu of land scrip.


  • Report of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, "Equal Protection of the Laws in Public Higher Education: 1960" recommends that federal funds be disbursed "only to such publicly controlled institutions of higher education as do not discriminate on grounds of race, color, religion, or national origin."


  • The Higher Education Act (HEA) of 1963 recognizes federal responsibility for aid to colleges and universities in the form of grants and loans for the construction of academic facilities.


  • The National Defense Education Act Amendments authorize major changes to expand and strengthen the graduate fellowship program and eliminate discriminatory institutional limitation on loan-fund grants.


  • The Higher Education Act of 1965 is passed, funding many higher education programs, including student aid.


  • The Housing and Urban Development Act of 1965 establishes a maximum interest rate of three percent for the College Housing Loan Program to provide relief for students from the high cost of college attendance.


  • The National Defense Education Project is passed to coordinate the federal role in international education. Later, this project is incorporated as Title VI of the Higher Education Act.


  • National Sea Grant College and Program Act. This established a program (under the U.S. Department of Commerce) to provide for applied research, formal education and advisory (extension) services for development of marine and Great Lakes resources. About two-thirds (of the 30 coastal and Great Lakes states involved) have integrated this effort with that of Cooperative Extension.


  • The District of Columbia Post Secondary Education Reorganization Act gives land-grant status to Federal City College, now the University of the District of Columbia. This established a precedent for federal trust areas to participate in the land-grant system.


  • The Navajo Community College Act creates the first tribally controlled college.


  • District of Columbia Public Education Act. This designated Federal City College as the land-grant institution for extension in the District of Columbia and authorized funds for this work.


  • Rural Development Act of 1972 - Title V. This authorized rural development and small-farm extension programs, required that administration of programs be associated with programs under Smith-Lever Act, and established State Rural Development Advisory Councils.


  • University of Guam, Northern Marianas College, the Community Colleges of American Samoa and Micronesia, and the College of the Virgin Islands secure land-grant status through the Education Amendments of 1972 (Public Law 92-318).


  • The Tribally Controlled Community College Act stimulates the development of a variety of technical, two-year, four-year, and graduate colleges presently located on or near tribal reservations.


  • The U.S. Department of Education is established. 1980 - Congress passes the Education Amendments of 1980 (to the Higher Education Act of 1965).


  • National Security Education Act (Boren Bill) is enacted to provide support for undergraduate study abroad and graduate work in foreign languages and area studies.


  • President Bush signs the Higher Education Act Amendments, reauthorizing the 1965 Higher Education Act.


  • The National and Community Service Trust Act establishes a corporation to coordinate programs through which students receive minimum wage stipends and tuition benefits in return for community service.


  • The federal government begins "direct lending", a program that enables colleges and universities to provide loans using federal funds directly to students, thus avoiding private lenders and streamlining the process.


  • The American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC), supported by NASULGC, launches a campaign to secure land-grant status for 29 Native American Colleges located in 12 states and serving 16,000 students.


  • National Agricultural Research, Extension and Teaching Act of 1994.
    • Land-grant status is conferred on 29 Native American colleges as a provision of the Elementary and Secondary Education Reauthorization Act. The bill authorized a $23 million endowment for them, to be built up over five years. The colleges were to receive annual interest payments from the endowment.
    • This act also provided grants for a pilot project to coordinate food and nutrition education programs of states, and it provided for demonstration grants for extension and nonprofit disability agencies to provide on-the-farm agricultural education and assistance directed at accomodating disability in farm operations.


  • The Department of Agricultural Reorganization Act of 1994.
    • This established the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES) to coordinate USDA and state cooperative agricultural research, extension, and education programs. It also established the CSREES to consolidate cooperative research and agricultural extension and education programs with state agricultural experiment stations and extension services within land-grant and related universities.

    Materials for this module were developed by Nick T. Place, Assistant Professor, 
    Department of Agricultural Education and Communication, IFAS / University of Florida.