New research from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta identifies ways historically Black colleges and universities might improve student performance measures —such as graduation rates and graduates’ incomes — relative to predominantly White institutions. A key element of the study is that it adds important context by considering the circumstances under which HBCU students arrive on campus, and how those circumstances contribute to the challenges the schools face.
For example, compared to predominantly White schools, a larger share of HBCU students are the first in their families to attend college, meaning that many new students at HBCUs lack the guidance from relatives that most college-bound young people take for granted. Moreover, more HBCU students require financial aid, as two-thirds receive Pell grants compared to roughly a third of students at other colleges.
The authors address broad questions of what mechanisms might deserve more attention in achieving better outcomes considering the characteristics students bring to campus. The goal, the researchers said, is to help HBCUs devise strategies to help improve student outcomes in the short and medium term.
The full report, “Decomposing Outcome Differences between HBCU and Non-HBCU Institutions,” may be downloaded by clicking here.