HBCUs remain a much-needed option for Black students

The HBCU system has played an integral role in the upward mobility of Black Americans since its establishment following the Civil War. A 2015 Gallup poll also showed that Black graduates of HBCUs fare better than those who went to non-HBCUs across a multitude of categories include financial well-being, purpose and even physical well-being. According to the poll, HBCU graduates felt more supported by their professors and had better opportunities for mentorship. Only 25 percent of Black graduates from other institutions reported that their professors cared about them as people, compared to 58 percent of graduates from HBCUs.

A 2015 Gallup poll also showed that Black graduates of HBCUs fare better than those who went to non-HBCUs across a multitude of categories include financial well-being, purpose and even physical well-being. According to the poll, HBCU graduates felt more supported by their professors and had better opportunities for mentorship. Only 25 percent of Black graduates from other institutions reported that their professors cared about them as people, compared to 58 percent of graduates from HBCUs.

Despite these successes, HBCUs have struggled in recent times. Desegregation, rising incomes and more opportunities for financial aid have provided Black students with more choices, and HBCUs have seen their enrollment numbers stay relatively flat over the past 25 years with small increases in enrollment. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) figures show that in fall 2015, the combined total enrollment of all HBCUs was 293,000, compared with 234,000 in 1980. By comparison, enrollment at other universities and colleges nearly doubled during that same time.

HBCUs aren’t letting these numbers discourage them and if anything, they’ve upped the ante with new program launches and expansions. Last month, Howard University announced the launch of a new West coast campus at the GooglePlex in Mountain View, Calif. Created with a mission to increase diversity in the tech industry, “Howard West” will provide residency to Black Computer Science majors and will further Google’s efforts to recruit more Black software engineers from HBCUs. The program begins this summer and will allow juniors and seniors to attend Howard West for three months at a time.

Students and alumni also are rallying behind HBCUs and have planned a National Day of Action on April 27, when they will gather on Capitol Hill to increase awareness and support for these institutions. Organized by the HBCU Collective, a group of advocates who work in politics, education and policy, the mission for the rally is to pressure the lawmakers into maintaining funding and increasing resources for HBCU students.