Baltimore viewed from Morgan State University.
Baltimore viewed from Morgan State University. - 
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HOST: Well now to the state of Maryland where a five-year-old education lawsuit may finally be headed for resolution. Advocates sued the state for underfunding historically black colleges. And for drawing top students away from those colleges to other state schools. Today both sides will sit down in search of a settlement.

From the Marketplace Education Desk at WYPR in Baltimore, Amy Scott reports.

Amy Scott: The lawsuit began after Towson University started offering an MBA -- a degree students could already get a short drive away at historically Black Morgan State University. Attorney Michael Jones represents the coalition suing the state. He says federal law prohibits states from starting new programs that are already established at a nearby Historically Black College or University, or HBCU.

Michael Jones: Once these programs were duplicated elsewhere, it affected the abilities of the HBCUs to be competitive in terms of attracting students regardless of race.

Plaintiffs want the state to dismantle redundant programs at traditionally white schools, which many African-Americans attend. David Paulson is a spokesman with the Maryland Attorney General's office.

David Paulson: The elimination of any program would harm both white students and African-American students and other minority students.

If the two sides can't reach a deal, the case goes to trial next month.

In Baltimore, I'm Amy Scott for Marketplace.

Follow Amy Scott at @amyreports