Historically Black Colleges Feeling Economic Crunch

fisk universityThe pressures of the lagging economy can be felt by everyone, but it seems those at the Historically Black Colleges are really feeling the pinch. This group of colleges, created before 1964 to serve the higher learning needs of the black comunity, include instutitions such as Howard University in Washington, D.C., Spelman College in Atlanta and Hampton University in Virginia. Enrollment at these schools is down, as are endowments and fundraising. Most universities are feeling this, as a recent survey revealed endowments are down an average of three percent.

Students at the Historically Black Colleges, however, are typically more dependent upon the financial aid provided by these schools.

“What’s most difficult for our institutions is that they are tuition-driven,” said Michael Lomax, president of the United Negro College Fund. “They don’t have large endowments, and even the ones who do, have seen a large reduction in the value of those endowments.”

The majority of these Historicaly Black College students use grants, loans and part-time jobs to pay for tuition (62 percent receive Pell Grants); few receive financial support from families as 90 percent of these students’ families earn less than $40,000 per year.

Like other colleges and universities, these schools have faced down times before and survived, so they’re having to remind themselves how to be mindful of budgets and spending. Still, cuts are being made. Spelman is cutting its department of education and instead doing a partner program with Clark Atlanta University, as well as cutting 35 positions and closing campus for a week in May. Morehouse, the country’s only all male historically black college, cut 25 adjunct teaching positions.

See more on this story from the AP.

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