Black Enrollees at HBCUs More Likely to Obtain Bachelor’s Degrees

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A new study finds that African American students who initially enroll at historically Black colleges or universities (HBCUs) are nearly 15 percent more likely to graduate and have a 5 percent higher income by age 30 than those who do not enroll at HBCUs.

This finding comes from the study “HBCU Enrollment and Longer-Term Outcomes,” by the Annenberg Institute for School Reform (AISR) at Brown University, an education research and reform institute focused on understanding the consequences of and reducing educational inequity.

The researchers examined how the type of institution students initially enroll at impacts educational, economic, and financial outcomes by using data from nearly 1.2 million Black students who took the SAT between 2004 and 2010.

Despite the positive impact on graduation and income rates, the study found that students who start their education at an HBCU tend to have about $12,000 more in outstanding student loans by the time they are 30 years old. This trend in part is due to the increased likelihood of HBCU students pursuing high-earning majors, such as those in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields.

Another key discovery is that less selective, broad-access HBCUs fare better than more selective HBCUs in improving students’ outcomes.

The researchers urge students, parents, high school counselors, education policymakers, and donors to consider these findings when making college decisions or allocating resources.

“HBCUs have faced many challenges over the last century, such as inadequate funding, state and court legislators requiring justification of their existence, and questions about their quality,” the study concludes. “This research demonstrates that the historically outsized role played by HBCUs in granting access to Black students and supplying talented Black graduates to the American economy still holds for 21st century graduates.”