HBCUs a Bargain Compared with Other Private Colleges, UNCF Says - Higher Education
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HBCUs a Bargain Compared with Other Private Colleges, UNCF Says

by Charles Dervarics

Applications are on the increase at many private Black colleges, the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) says, and one factor may be their lower tuitions compared with other small private colleges and universities.

 In a new report, UNCF and the Frederick D. Patterson Research Institute said tuition at UNCF member institutions was 28 percent lower in the 2006-07 school year than similar private colleges and universities who are not historically Black colleges. Average charges that school year were $20,648 at UNCF institutions, compared with $26,451 at peer institutions.

 The following year, UNCF institutions had average charges that were 31 percent below other private colleges and universities. The average UNCF institution costs $21,518 or $6,625 less than other private colleges.

 UNCF institutions also had average yearly tuition increases that were about half the level of increase among other private colleges. HBCUs “offer a small-college experience that is one quarter lower in cost than comparable institutions,” said Dr. Michael Lomax, UNCF president.

 UNCF based its findings on total charges at its 39 member institutions and those at private colleges and universities with similarities in total enrollment, degrees offered and other factors. The typical UNCF institution had at least a dozen or more comparable colleges and universities and one, Talladega College in Alabama, had 84 comparable institutions.

 While most private Black colleges were at least $5,000 less expensive than their comparable institutions, seven UNCF-member colleges cost at least $10,000 less.


Despite this breakdown, UNCF said it did not consider institutional aid or student’s unmet need in assessing affordability. Private colleges with significant endowments may use institutional aid to address such unmet needs. The fund said it may consider that factor in future studies on the topic.

 Students at UNCF institutions do rely more on federal grants and loans and less on institutional aid than their counterparts at other small private colleges, said Dr. Tammy Mann, executive director of the Patterson Institute.

 African-American students attending HBCUs also are more likely to come from lower-income families than African-Americans at predominantly White institutions, the group said. While they may be less prepared for college than their counterparts at predominantly White institutions, African-Americans at HBCUs report stronger outcomes on several key indicators of success, UNCF said. Citing a variety of studies, UNCF said African Americans at HBCUs report higher levels of support from their college, have stronger relationships with faculty and earn higher grades compared with those at other institutions.

 Overall, student applications at UNCF member institutions have increased from 2003 through 2007, said Dr. Karl Reid, UNCF senior vice president of academic programs. But enrollments have remained relatively constant, he added.

 With the recession straining student and family budgets, UNCF says more students are applying for scholarships. “We have seen a significant increase,” Reid said. More than 100,000 students applied for scholarships, including the Gates Millennium Scholarship, he said. Reid called this a 20 percent increase from the previous year.


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