Money, Money, Money, MONEY: HBCUs Really Need It!

Photo: Alabama A&M Students Protest Against School Administrators (Dion Hose, WHNT NEWS 19 / September 10, 2010)

In 2010, Dr. Marybeth Gasman, Associate Professor at UPenn, created a policy brief of comprehensive funding approaches for HBCUs. It addresses funding sources, policies and strategies currently practiced and proposed by HBCUs.  This essay traces the origins of financial disparities plaguing historically black schools. First, you must be aware that HBCUs enroll a large percentage of students from low socio-economic status. This may lead to small percentages of alumni giving and university endowments. Secondly, HBCUs also enroll a large percentage of students from ill-prepared elementary and secondary education. Thus creating higher risks of low graduation and retention rates.

Dr. Gasman addresses the disproportionate amount of federal funding amongst HBCUs as a population and then compared to their non-HBCUs counterparts. In 2005, the receipt of federal research and development support to HBCUs showed that the top ten HBCUs (i.e. Spelman, Morehouse, Howard, Hampton …) accounted for 52.7% of the funding and the top 20 HBCUs at 72% leaving the remaining 85 HBCUs with little or no federal funding in regards to research and development. Is the federal government being held accountable for such disparities? What is the criteria for an institution of Higher Education to receive federal funding for research and development?

The policy brief goes on to explain that in the state funding, where HBCUs serve a large proportion of African American students, HBCUs are also receiving unequal capital per student. For example in North Carolina, students at some public HBCUs receive half ($7,800) of the in state funding when compared to their counterparts ($15,700) at a Predominantly White Institution. Should the state and local governments be held accountable for these inequalities? Is it okay to preference higher student per capital spending at institutions with large endowments and students of higher socio-economic statuses than their counterparts at HBCUs?

As students, alum, faculty and staff of HBCUs what can we do to increase support and improve our methods of fundraising?  What are some examples of HBCUs that have successfully worked to increase funding and what methods did they use?

There is something fishy going around and we need to catch it!


3 thoughts on “Money, Money, Money, MONEY: HBCUs Really Need It!

  1. Greetings,
    I would like to applaud the creators of this blog, as it presents an opportunity to bring awareness to the issues of financial disparities that HBCU’s face. In Cynthia L. Jackson and Eleanor F. Nunn’s book entitled “Historically Black Colleges and Universities: A Reference Handbook”, sheds light on some interesting facts and figures of the top endowed HBCU. Results from the 2001 endowment records confirm that: “Howard University topped off at $324 million; Spelman at $229 million with the average endowment per student at $114,500; Hampton at $175 million; and Morehouse at $101 million.” The success of these schools has a commonality of strong leadership from the HBCU president and performance based long-range planning efforts. In addition, these HBCU’s are the most visible amongst the larger HBCU community. Their reliance on funding is deeply connected to the relationships that HBCU President’s have established and maintained with financial entities that agree to support the mission and values that govern the success of the student body.
    There are many lessons that can be learned from the top endowed HBCU’s, yet there are many opportunities that can be brought to fruition when seeking means to draw financial support for all HBCU’s: Here are a few:
    1. Philanthropic Foundations: HBCU’s need to leverage their resources through partnering in grant applications. Many HBCU’s have similar research programs and initiatives that need financial funding. Maybe we need to learn to share the resources amongst the HBCU community.
    2. Athletes and Celebrities: We must engage our athletes, music artists, and actors into the discussion of charitable giving and advertising of HBCU’s. The visibility of these celebrities can spark a wave of attention to all HBCU’s.
    3. Alumni. Frequent communication to alumni will motivate financial giving. Alum need to know what programs and projects that is of interest to the university and ways that their financial contributions can help. Most importantly, requests need to be followed with timely progress reports.
    4. Religion Organizations: Jackson and Nunn note in their book a report that presented results on Black giving. “53% of all Black households give to charity and 59% of their donations go to the church and other religious purposes”. The church can be a great asset to enhancing opportunities for scholarships funds for students. We must remember our past, the first HBCU, Cheyney College, was started by a Quaker philanthropist.
    5. Private Sector: Social giving is a huge component that large corporations use to brand and market to their clients. Through collaboration and partnerships with these large entities, HBCU’s can frame their student success rates and present opportunities for advancements
    6. Technology promotes visibility. The ability to be candid with the world about the issues of financial funding of HBCU’s should be a regular discussion that can be utilized through social media outlets. If the world is not aware of the problems/issues/opportunities/success of HBCU’s, then they will be forgotten.
    Let us put our solutions together and save our HBCU’s.

  2. But are HBCUs really in need of money? I go to the “Mecca,” I go to Howard University where I am paying annually about 40,000. Howard has roughly 10,000 students including graduate students, multiply 40,000 by 10,000. With the acknowledgment that some students will pay the 40,000 with assistance of scholarships and other sources of money coming from within Howard, Howard should be pulling in yearly 400 million. So please, someone explain to me why Howard University among other “Ivy league,” and over priced HBCUs need money. If Howard is pulling in about 400 million a year, why are the grounds of Howard dilapidated? Why are we still using black chalkboards? Why do most of the buildings go without AC? Why are Biology and Chemistry students force to pay hefty prices for lab textbooks, money that goes right back into Howard, to only turn around and NOT complete a lab because Howard…surprise surprise does not have the money to fund a modern science lab? So why do HBCUs need money? It appears to me that top HBCUs have money, but there is a lack of management and poor judgment plaguing these schools.

  3. Great point Mercedes…although a yearly budget of 400 million sounds like a lot; it really is not (for a university of Howard’s magnitude). I quickly researched Howard’s annual budget on their website to find that in 1998 Howard’s tuition and fees accounted for 20% ($101 million) of the university’s total revenue budget, federal appropriations accounted for 34% ($196 million) and contract and grant revenues ($47 million). These were the major funding services of the university’s total revenue. The report goes on to explain how significant revenues from private-sector contributions, investment income, educational department sales and services, auxiliary enterprises sales and services and hospital services account for Howard’s revenue budget. I brought all that up to simply point out that in 1998 tuition and fees at Howard University only accounted for 20% of their revenue. Yes, it’s 2011 and I am sure that the percentage of revenue of tuition and fees has in increased over time; however I wonder if it serves as the current major source of revenue? And if not, what is Howard or any other HBCUs major source of revenue because based on Howard’s 1998 budget the major sources mentioned earlier only contributed to a little over half of the university’s total revenues? Justine referenced the endowments of our HBCUs, where in 2001 none of them reached more than 500 million dollars. Where do HBCUs get money with small endowments compared to other colleges and universities? More specifically, how is the money being spent?

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