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.