HBCUs Do More With Less: Despite Financial Handicaps, HBCUs Are Highly Successful

Dick Startz, a professor of economics at the Univerity of California Santa Barbara, has published an informative article on the value of historically Black colleges and universities to the nation. The research is published on the website of the Brookings Institution, a nonprofit public policy organization based in Washington, that has the stated mission of conducting in-depth research that leads to new ideas for solving problems facing society at the local, national and global level.

Dr. Startz notes that surveys have shown African American college graduates who earned their degrees at HBCUs are more likely than Black students who graduated from predominantly White educational institutions to be financially secure, happier, and to have built strong and supportive relationships. Graduates of HBCUs also reported that they were more likely to have had mentors and received support from faculty and administrators than those Black students who did not graduate from HBCUs.

The report shows that HBCUs spend about two-thirds per student as predominantly White colleges and universities. Dr. Startz calculates that at non-HBCU public schools, tuition revenue per student is about $6,700 — as compared to only $4,900 at HBCUs. Similarly, at private non-HBCU schools, the average is $17,000 as compared to $10,400 at private HBCUs.

The research also points out the endowments of most HBCUs are able to do little to offset the lower tuition revenue. There are 100 colleges and universities that have endowments of more than $1 billion. None are HBCUs. Howard University has the largest endowment among HBCUs, but Harvard University’s endowment is 50 times great than Howard’s endowment and more than all HBCUs combined.

Despite operating with lower revenues and smaller endowments, HBCUs produce about one out of eight bachelor’s degrees earned by Black students in the United States. In short, HBCUs, do more with less.


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  1. It’s difficult to square these findings with the sheer number of media stories about financial scandals at HBCUs. Then there are all those cases of HBCUs losing accreditaion or being placed on academic probation.

    I attended PWIs and have no complaints, except that most white faculty were not disposed to inviting my participation on their research projects — even after I had performed well in the classroom. Exclusionary attitudes definitely make it harder for many black graduate students at PWIs to acquire all the skills needed for a successful research career.

  2. It appears that Ewart has an acute case of Cognitive Dissonance. One moment he bloviates about his “beloved” PWI all the while besmirching HBCUs. Now Ewart is “complaining” about being denied academic opportunities while at the PWIs. Cry me a river!

  3. Here’s another so-called White academic whose not intellectually qualified to speak on HBCUs nor about the Black people who attend HBCUs. Yet, this so-called White academic is nestled in a city that 98 percent White and work at a university that 95 percent White (e.g., UC-Santa Barbara). That said, I would highly recommend that Mr. Startz conduct some research on why UC-Santa Barbara is just as white as the University of Vermont even though they he lives in a state that’s no longer majority white.

  4. One size does not fit all — and while there are systemic issues of racism facing all HBCUS and perhaps convenient to view all HBCUs through that prism — they are not all the same. Nor are PWIs, though they are less likely to be grouped as PWIs as often as HBCUs. It is unfair to always link the better performing HBCUs with those that are operating under much more difficult circumstances. PWIs are never viewed that way. It requires more analysis, but it is important to disaggregate HBCU data whenever possible. For example, do Howard, Morehouse, Xavier, Hampton and Spelman graduates do as well with employment and graduate and professional school admissions as, say, Morris, Edward Waters, Coppin, Benedict and Allen. And –are they happier, whatever that means.

    • Here’s another thought: Even if grads from Howard, Morehouse, Spelman etc. are more successful in securing admission to grad schools or in obtaining entry level jobs, to what extent are these outcomes merit-based?

      In accounting, for example, there was a longstanding practice of major (white) firms hiring annual quotas of black students from a couple of the HBCUs just mentioned, not because their students were the most able or accomplished black accounting grads entering the labor market, but because these HBCUs had political connections to both black and white elites.

      Of course, these (white) accounting firms never planned to retain or promote their black hires, so they didn’t have to be the best or the brightest.

  5. @ Ewart Archer: To what extent are the “outcomes” you mentioned (i.e. securing admission to grad schools or in obtaining entry level jobs, etc.) truly “merit-based” in the case of majority group members? We need to stop assuming that whatever THEY have achieved was earned and merited, as we now have abundant evidence from the college admission scandals at certain PWI that such is not always the case.

    • I am not assuming what you say I am assuming..

      I am pointing out one of the ways prominent and seemingly successful HBCUs create suboptimal situations — in which many of the wrong black candidates are recruited to major accounting firms, where they fail in droves.

      The unfortunate result is to reinforce negative stereotypes about blacks, and prevent us from gaining influence in the accounting profession.

      • Hey ewart,

        You need to fully recognize that you’re Not part of the “Native born Black American” family. Therefore, you’re Not academically, culturally, ethnically, socially, or racially qualified to speak about HBCUs or the “Native born Black American” community. In fact, you continue to Display your unashamed ignorance and self-hatred.

        • Hey HBCU Watch:

          Tribalism and identity politics are a terrible scourge in 21st century America. Focus on the substantive issues I have raised instead of resorting to personal attacks.

          • Enough with the undergraduate POLISCI phraseology. The entirety of any of your misguided, rudimentary, and polyannish comments is akin to “A Man Without a Country”. I would highly suggest that you seriously familiarize yourself with work of Neely Fuller in order to deprogram yourself from your decades of miseducation. Adios idiota!

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