Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Return on Investment

September 21, 2021

Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Return on Investment

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Historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) were founded before slavery was abolished. Abolitionists in Pennsylvania and Ohio founded HBCUs to train students to become educators or work in the trades. After the Civil War, the Freedmen's Bureau opened HBCUs throughout the former Confederacy. Some schools catered to women only. Others taught students how to become independent farmers.

More than 100 HBCU colleges exist today. Most of these schools exist in the South. Many schools continue to enroll mostly African Americans. Learners can enroll in two- and four-year institutions. Some HBCUs offer large research programs in different academic areas.

The following article describes HBCUs' relevance, reasons for attending, and ROI. The final section provides links to outside resources. Prospective enrollees can contact an HBCU's admissions department for more information.

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Are Historically Black Colleges and Universities Still Relevant Today?

Historically Black colleges and universities offer many benefits. Students can network with a community of peers from similar backgrounds. They can also learn from professors and advisors with shared life experiences.

HBCUs Contribute to STEM Fields

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), professionals working in a STEM occupation earn more than double the national median salary. The BLS projects the need for STEM workers to grow 8% from 2019-2029. This projection suggests that STEM graduates should enter a strong job market.

HBCUs graduate 25% of African Americans majoring in STEM, making these schools essential to providing the nation with trained professionals. Top HBCU colleges for prospective STEM majors include North Carolina A&T State University and Florida A&M University.

HBCUs Make College More Affordable

Rising tuition affects all degree-seekers. But it hurts those from a low socioeconomic background the most. Many HBCUs address this challenge by offering affordable tuition. Like other colleges and universities, HBCUs offer scholarships and grants. Schools advertise these and other forms of financial aid on their website.

HBCUs Contribute to the Upward Mobility of Black Students

HBCUs offer majors that prepare students for in-demand careers. Historically Black colleges and universities also promote upward mobility for African American students. The Rutgers Graduate School of Education reported this finding after completing research into graduates' outcomes.

The report highlights that about 70% of African American graduates attain a middle-class lifestyle. Prospective students from affluent backgrounds may also benefit from attending.

Why Attend an HBCU?

HBCUs feature many benefits for African American students, including a positive, nurturing community. Many schools offer a low student-to-teacher ratio. Small class sizes allow enrollees to get to know their professors. These personal connections create academic and professional networks that may help graduates find a career or enroll in graduate school.

HBCUs also help learners connect to their African American roots. For example, students may major in Black history. These academic opportunities help degree-seekers find their place in the world. Learners can also discover how a college education leads to better personal and community outcomes.

Alumni support and financial aid draw many learners to historically Black colleges and universities. Many schools offer alumni associations and mentorship programs. HBCUs encourage enrollees to apply for scholarships through the United Fund.

Determining an HBCU's ROI

ROI means much more than the salary graduates make right out of school. It also includes learners' overall college experience and student debt. Applicants may need to review other factors depending on their background and long-term goals.

Challenges Faced by Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Many students who attend HBCUs go into debt to pay for a degree. Another challenge for HBCUs involves getting African Americans to apply. Schools that meet enrollment goals may have low graduation rates. This is because some students lack the academic preparation to succeed at the college level.

These schools facelow investment rates from the federal government, state governments, and private institutions. Lack of investment leads to unmaintained infrastructure and facilities, impacting the student experience and ROI. Together, these factors lead many to believe that HBCUs offer a lower-quality education than other institutions.

More Resources

The United Fund offers this resource. The guide breaks down HBCU basics, notable statistics, and a listing of all institutions. This search engine allows users to narrow down historically Black colleges and universities by academic major and state. Results include a link to each school's website and its status as a public or private institution. The federal government promotes African Americans' academic and professional success with career and financial aid opportunities. The website also features the latest news and legislation impacting HBCU students. The foundation raises money for its general scholarship fund. Applicants must attend school full time and maintain a minimum 2.75 GPA. The award covers up to $10,000 of education-related expenses.

Thomas Broderick is a freelance writer and the owner of Broderick Writer LLC. He creates study guides, informational websites, and blog posts for clients in the education field. Thomas is also a published author of over 20 short stories and a member of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America.

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