Historically Black colleges and universities are suffering in today’s environment as parents and students are electing to go elsewhere. The days of almost certainly attending a Black institution as our parents did are a thing of the past. College students today have more choices. Earlier in the month, President Barack Obama was critical of HBCUs during a meeting with members of the Congressional Black Caucus – his first with the group since June 2013.
To find out how to support HBCU’s, as the Tom Joyner Foundation has done since its inception in 1998, raising over $65 million dollars to support 29,000 students at HBCU’s, click HERE.
While most expected to hear something very different from the president, it was made clear that the focus of HBCUs needs to be on the schools changing their ways of doing business rather than on changes in federal policy. Obama also spoke about his free community college plan – which some HBCU advocates believe will hurt the schools.
The Chair of President Obama’s Board of Advisors on HBCUs, Hampton University President Dr. William Harvey, was critical of the lack of input the Board had on the community college proposal during a speech in Washington to Administration officials in early February. He said he was “disappointed and saddened” by the lack of agency funding for Historically Black colleges and universities.
“We are not consulted when it comes to policy changes and decisions impacting – in a major way – the institutions on whose behalf we are to advocate. It happened with Pell. It happened with Parent Plus. And, now it is happening with the new community college initiative,” Harvey said.
I would argue that as times have changed, HBCUs and the way that they do business have not changed with them. You would think as enrollment has grown throughout the years, so would the finances of the institutions that have produced some of the greatest minds in American history. Even today, most of the children who attend these institutions are first and second generation graduates, representing a lifetime of hope to their families. HBCU’s still play a significant role in our culture. The issue is…how to keep them open.
HBCUs have had a tough time during the Obama Administration. In 2011, a change by the Department of Education to Parent PLUS loan standards would eventually cost HBCUs over $150 million. A recent report by the Association of Public And Land Grant Universities says that over $57 million in federal funding for HBCU’s has been withheld in 10 states between 2010 and 2012, because those states did not allocated the proper funding which they can do without penalty.