Photo credit: Howard University

Where Have All The College Students Gone?

College enrollment has been and attendance appears to be a continued problem for Black students. While, according to education, there was a rise in college attendance, it began experiencing a dip in 2010. College attendance amongst African American students has declined 12.9 percent since 2010 according to education This does not mean that Black students are an extinct community, however. According to education data. org, of the Black students with a GPA of 3.5 or higher, about 33 percent attend community college. Overall, there has been a 34 percent increase in Black college students since 1976.  Even Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), which have provided a space for more and more black students looking to go to college, have taken a hit, dropping 15 percent between 2010 to 2020. So, as students prepare to leave high school, what can be done to help them transition to college, and most importantly, what can be done to help them stay. 

Why Is It Hard To Go? Why Is It Hard To Stay?

Why would you want to go to college, what could be the particular appeal of traditional education for young Black Americans, particularly with HBCUs> What makes the HBCU experience so different from what happens at a Predominantly White Institution (PWI)? Well, one aspect can be the sense of cultural connection that is offered to Black students. According to a Gallup poll done in 2015, Black graduates are more likely to thrive in social (54 percent) and purpose well-being (51 percent). Black HBCU graduates are also more likely to agree they have the support and learning opportunities in college. It was also suggested that this can be tied to the well-being of graduates later in life. 

“The profoundly different experiences that black graduates of HBCUs and non-HBCUs are having in college may leave HBCU graduates feeling better prepared for life afterward and potentially lead these two groups to live vastly different lives after college,” Gallup said. 

The HBCU experience can offer a more comfortable environment, and that in and of itself can help students in the long run.

HBCU Affordability

So, what about the elephant in the room: college debt and student loans, the two things that can hold students back. The average student loan debt is $37,113 and Black college students are most likely to use federal loans. Within four years of graduating, 48 percent of Black students owe 12.5 percent more than they originally borrowed on their loans. There are existing avenues, however, to avoid this (taking out loans) for young Black students looking to go to college. HBCUs such as Morehouse developed the College Student Success program, which allows students to get advanced degrees without undergraduate loans, which was kickstarted by Robert F. Smith. There are also HBCUs like Paul Quinn, which implements a work program (all full-time students have to work at least 10 hours per week). Since the program began, its reduced student debt by almost $30,000. College, particularly in regards to an HBCU education, does not have to come at a hefty price.