Study Finds That Historically Black Colleges Have Lower Tuitions

Compiled By Staff
December 21, 2009

A new report released by the United Negro College Fund indicates that tuition is significantly less at historically black colleges and universities that at comparable institutions which are not specifically for black students.

The study was based on data culled from 39 HBCUs that are members of the United Negro College Fund. Diverse: Issues in Higher Education reports that tuition at these HBCUs was found to be 28 percent lower in the 2006-7 school year than at comparable non-black institutions. That same year, average charges at UNCF member schools were $20,648, compared to $26,451 at other private colleges. In 2007-8, UNCF schools were 31 percent lower, costing about $6,625 less than at private institutions.

"The President has committed the country to regaining world leadership in the percentage of citizens with college education by 2020 and preparation and affordability are critical elements to ensuring this goal is met," noted Michael L. Lomax, UNCF president and CEO in a press release. "HBCUs represent approximately 4 percent of all postsecondary institutions, but produce 21 percent of African American college graduates. It is important for our schools to be affordable."

US News & World Report points out, however, that the study only considered the sticker prices at private institutions, and didn't take into account the actual price most students pay after receiving grants. The vast majority of students receive about $10,000 in aid, greatly reducing the actual tuition costs.

"Most HBCUs haven't received the big donations or government grants that enable competing historically white institutions to offer lots of scholarships," notes US News. "So students offered grants at more expensive historically white colleges may actually pay less for their degrees than students who don't get grants but attend lower-priced HBCUs."

Indeed, US News reported earlier this year that a significant number of African American students are being lured by generous financial aid packages offered by wealthier private colleges and state universities including Columbia and Cornell.

Diverse reports that according to Dr. Karl Reid, senior vice president of academic programs for UNCF, applications to UNCF member institutions have increased in the past few years, while enrollments have remained at about the same level. He added that more than 100,000 students applied for scholarships, reflecting a 20 percent increase from the previous year.

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