HBCU Enrollment is at an All-Time High

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are experiencing a surge in enrollment.

“We’re attracting students who have a significant interest in social justice and an interest in addressing what they see as the ills of society,” said  Howard University Provost Dr. Anthony K. Wutoh.

Howard University saw a 15% increase in enrollment during the pandemic. The Provost says that the increase is one of the largest in the last 30 years. The University also expects enrollment to increase in the fall.

The growth at the institute is being attributed to famous alumni, including current Vice President Kamala Harris and late actor Chadwick Boseman. Journalists Ta-Nehisi Coates and Nikole Hannah-Jones have recently become faculty members at Howard University.

“We are attracting students who have significant interest in social justice and an interest in addressing what they see as the ills of society,” Wutoh said.

According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center’s final spring report, college enrollment in the United States fell by 3.5%.

Howard University President Wayne A.I. Frederick told Axios during a virtual event on Tuesday that exposing younger students to higher education early will close the college enrollment gap between Black and White students. The university president says that there needs to be an increase in African-American high school graduates to lessen the gap.

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that 56.6% of Black students were enrolled in college in 2022 compared with 62.9% of White students.

“It’s critical that we do it early. It’s extremely important. I think to have them [young students] get an early exposure,” Frederick said. “[At Howard] they are able to attend different labs on my campus, so that feel of being around college, demystifying it, is important.”

“We must ensure that all universities in this country are sensitive to the issue of trying to get a diverse student population and making opportunities for underrepresented minorities to be part of the education system.”

“[HBCUs] play a critical role in evolving a diverse society,” Dr. Hakim Lucas, President and CEO of Virginia Union University (VUU). “Research shows that HBCUs graduate more Black professionals than primarily White institutions. There are many promising proposals in the new administration’s agenda — but there is a long history of broken promises and inequitable treatment when it comes to HBCUs.”

HBCUs across the country have received significant philanthropic contributions. President Joe Biden carved out more than $90 billion for HBCUs in the $1 Trillion Infrastructure Bill — $10 billion for research and development, $15 billion for 200 research incubators, and $20 billion for laboratory upgrades.

Through the American Families Plan, HBCUs will receive $5 billion for grants and $2 billion for graduate programs for healthcare workers. $39 billion will help students that attend a minority institution and come from families making less than $125,000 pay for two years of college.

Pell Grants are expected to increase by  $1,400.

$3 billion in emergency assistance was also given to HBCUs when the COVID-19 relief bill was passed in Congress last year. $1.6 billion in debt were wiped out for HBCUs that received federal loans to pay for campus repairs and construction.

“When you invest in HBCUs, you are investing in raising the average level of education in all 21 areas where there are HBCUs,” Dr. Terrell L. Strayhorn, Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs at VUU said. “You are increasing economic development for all those areas. You are stimulating minority-owned businesses because a vast majority of those HBCUs have business programs. Many of those graduates go on to own businesses that actually exist right in the neighborhood where they studied.”

Tiffany launched a yearlong campaign on Monday entitled “About Love” featuring Beyoncé and Jay-Z. The luxury brand plans to donate $2 million for scholarship and internship programs for HBCUs.

“This commitment reflects Tiffany’s continued support toward the advancement of underrepresented communities,” Alexandre Arnault, Tiffany’s Executive Vice President of Products and Communications, said. “The Carters have already done incredible work in this space. Together, we are excited to embark upon this journey.”

Last year, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and his wife Patty Quillin donated $120 million to the United Negro College Fund, Spelman, and Morehouse College.

“Would an Ivy appreciate a gift of this amount? Sure, but would that gift likely stand the test of time for decades, even generations to come? Likely not,” Crystal DeGregory, a research fellow at Middle Tennessee State University’s Center for Historic Preservation, said. “Fortunately for the benefactors and for their brand, this is a history-making gift.”






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