HBCUs, College Costs, and Money – Why You Should Care

I just finished reading a post in the Higher Education blog about Historically Black Colleges and Universities and I’m fighting mad.

the six-year graduation rates of 83 four-year HBCUs last year, finding that just 37 percent of black students attained degrees within six years. More striking than the low completion rate was the fact that the national college graduation rate for black students is actually 4 percentage points higher than that of HBCUs collectively, calling into question the long-held notion that HBCUs are better at graduating African Americans.

It’s not only the fact that only 37% of students at HBCUS are graduating after 6 years that’s getting me riled up. The part that stuck out to me the most is:

Asked about graduation rates Thursday, Education Sector panelists suggested that funding levels could not be discounted as a significant drag on student success at HBCUs.

“A lot of that [graduation] rate …. is grounded in money, lack of money,” Wilson said.

Some HBCU officials say they still encounter hundreds of academically eligible students each year who drop out of college because their financial need cannot be met with Pell Grants and other aid. The vast majority of HBCUs have small endowments, so there isn’t a pot of money to dip into when financial challenges arise.

I take two things from this:

1) Many students of color rely on financial aid to pay for college costs. To make sure that students of color have access to the funds they need financial educators like myself have to:
– Make sure that parents have access to more information about saving for college early and regularly.
– Reach students to plan for college costs earlier.
– Help students of color save and aggressively seek scholarships and grants.
– Assist families of color in better understanding college costs and finding the school with the best fit for them.

2) Students that graduated from HBCUs aren’t supporting the colleges and universities financially as much as they could. I wonder if there is an opportunity to assist HBCU students, and potential graduates, in becoming more successful and understanding how their contributing to their alma maters contributes to building a strong community.

I think we all know the reasons we want more youth to have access to higher education. More young people in college means fewer young people getting into trouble with the law or getting stuck in low wage jobs. If we want our communities to be strong then we have to do what it takes to support others that are striving for positivity.

In an effort to reach more HBCU students I’m making an effort to share my new book 10 Things College Students Need to Know About Money with all 105 HBCUs in the United States. To kick things off I’ll be visiting Fayetville, Atlanta, Birmingham, Jackson, and Dallas-Ft. Worth this August.

Want Shay to visit your school? Call Shay!

Save Money on College Costs

As it gets closer to the May/June season of graduations it’s time for many to think about college costs.

Even if you don’t think you will be awarded any income based grants, you should apply for aid using the FAFSA application just in case. It’s free to apply.

Remember to check that you want to have Work-Study grants on the FAFSA application. Work-Study grants allow for students have part-time jobs on campus. They are a great way to gain work experience and a decent wage.

Apply for grants from the school you’ll be attending as well as general grant clearinghouses such as Fast Web. Site should not charge you to have access to grant information.

Consider local, in-state schools as well as out-of-state schools. There are some very good bargains to be had in education. Don’t fall for the hype. Almost all undergrad degrees are equal. Going to a school with a great general reputation doesn’t mean that your major has a great department or that you’ll be offered a job automatically after graduation. Find a school that has a great department in your major and has great connections to jobs, research, etc.

Buy used textbooks. There is no reason to pay full price for textbooks. When you get on campus you’ll see notices from other students wanting to sell their old textbooks. Buying from other students is a great way to buy book cheaply. Another way to buy used textbooks is to visit the college bookstore or buy online.

Take out loans only as a last resort. Many students get stuck in student loan ruts.

Lastly, there are college and universities that will provide enough grants to make your college experience free! I found this list of 10 schools that will provide you with a great education and expect no payment.

For those that aren’t going off to college just yet, remember that high school students can:

– Take advance placement classes that will provide the student with college credit. Placement classes are available at high schools. Students sign up for these classes with their high school counselors. They are a great way to prepare students for the rigor of college coursework and shave a few dollars off of college costs.
– Take college courses at a community college while still in high school. Many students have done so well in their high school careers that by senior year they don’t plan on taking too many challenging classes. This is folly. Taking even two classes at a community college each semester over senior year, including summer, will knock off paying for a whole semester of college costs.

Guerilla Financial Tactics

In celebration of April being Financial Literacy Month my new eBook, Guerilla Financial Tactics, is available now for free download. This brief eBook suggests ways to evade would-be identity thieves and be proactive about staying off the financial grid.

Download Guerilla Financial Tactics here.

April is Financial Literacy Month – Establish Credit

Since April is Financial Literacy Month I’ve invited a few folks to share their blogs with my readers throughout the month.

One of the most often asked questions about personal finance is how to establish credit. There are several strategies that people use. One of my favorite tips is to get a cell phone. It’s a manageable monthly bill that will allow you to have a needed service while building credit. This article from The Smarter Wallet suggests a few other ways to establish credit.

Don’t forget to purchase a copy of Money Matters: The Get It Done in 1 Minute Workbook at a 25% discount (use code XS8K4YGX). Spread the word that financial literacy is power! Buy a book for a friend and a relative.

April is Financial Literacy Month – Financial Makeover

Since April is Financial Literacy Month I’ve invited a few folks to share their blogs with my readers throughout the month.

How many of us have seen those makeover shows on cable and wished we could have a financial makeover? Well, here’s your chance! This article on making over your financial life is a great place to start. It covers some simple, but important, tips to help you take control of your financial life.

Don’t forget to purchase a copy of Money Matters: The Get It Done in 1 Minute Workbook at a 25% discount (use code XS8K4YGX). Spread the word that financial literacy is power! Buy a book for a friend and a relative.

Each one teach one.

April is Financial Literacy Month – Credit Cards for Students

Since April is Financial Literacy Month I’ve invited a few folks to share their blogs with my readers throughout the month.

As we all know, the new CARD Act has a restriction that will prohibit people younger than 21 from applying for a credit card unless they have a co-signer that is older than 21 years old. That means that parents with students that will be heading off to college soon may want to co-sign for a card for their child to use in emergency situations, but how do you know which card is a good fit for a college student? This guest post from Digerati Life discusses some of the pros and cons of credit card usage for college students and which credit cards may be the best option for your student.

Don’t forget to purchase a copy of Money Matters: The Get It Done in 1 Minute Workbook at a 25% discount (use code XS8K4YGX). Spread the word that financial literacy is power! Buy a book for a friend and a relative.

Each one teach one.

Default: The Student Loan Documentary

I’m so pleased to tell you that the makers of Default: The Student Loan Documentary have partnered with Bigger Than Your Block to include the trailer for Default in all copies of my second book, 10 Things Students Need to Know About Money.

As you know, my work educating folks about how important personal finance is includes college costs as well. Right now paying for college is one of the biggest challenges many families have. Traditionally, taking out loans has been the way many college students have bridged the gap between costs and available funds. While loans are not bad in and of themselves, many students weren’t sure of what they were getting themselves into and found themselves with a mountain of debt. Default: The Student Loan Documentary will help families better understand loan products. I’m proud that this informational documentary trailer will be available with 10 Things College Students Need to Know About Money.