A Snapshot of Enrollments at the Nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities

New data from the U.S. Department of Education offers a snapshot of enrollments at the nation’s historically Black colleges and universities in the fall of 2018. This fall, undoubtedly many HBCUs will struggle to maintain enrollments at these levels due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the fall of 2018, there were 291,767 students enrolled at the nation’s HBCUs. African Americans made up about 76.5 percent of the enrollments at HBCUs that year. This was down from 81.1 percent in 2010.

In 2018, total enrollments were down slightly from 2017. This mirrored an overall drop in enrollments among all higher educational institutions.

North Carolina A&T State University led all HBCUs with 12,142 students enrolled. St. Phillip’s College in Texas enrolled more than 11,000 students, Florida A&M University was the only other HBCU with more than 10,000 students enrolled. Howard Univerity in Washington, D.C., and Texas Southern University in Houston each enrolled more than 9,000 students. The combined enrollments of the three campuses of the Southern University System in Louisiana enrolled 11,700 students.

Southwestern Christian College in Texas enrolled only 87 students, the lowest of any accredited HBCU in the nation. Other HBCUs that enrolled less than 300 students were the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, Simmons College of Kentucky, Clinton College in South Carolina, Virginia University of Lynchburg, and American Baptist College in Tennessee.

At some HBCUs almost all of the students were African Americans. For example at Selma University in Alabama, 308 of the 317 students were Black. At Tougaloo College in Mississippi, 719 of the 736 students enrolled were Black.

In contrast, some of the nation’s historically Black colleges and universities now have small percentages of Black students. At Gadsen State Community College in Alabama, only 18 percent of the student body was Black in 2018. At West Virginia State Univerity in 2018, there were 314 Black students who made up 8.5 percent of the student body.

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