Many historically black colleges are in the fight of their lives as they struggle to stay afloat in the aftermath of the Great Recession. Money is already tight and changes made to student loan requirements by the Obama administration haven’t made things any easier. It is a perfect storm and not all historically black colleges are expected to survive.
McClatchy interviewed Dillard University student Jasmine Stewart, who expressed how her university’s money problems are impacting her education:
The public university has no football team, no marching band and teachers who often come from other countries and speak with accents she can’t understand. Parts of the campus that Hurricane Katrina damaged eight years ago, including the library, have yet to be fully repaired. In a student lounge where Stewart sometimes hangs out, 20-year-old Funk & Wagnalls encyclopedias are made available as study aids.
She added: “The college experience isn’t what I thought it would be.” And Stewart is not alone in her disappointment. Grambling football players recently boycotted a game in order to draw attention to the dismal conditions at their school.
Even those who stand staunchly behind HBCUs admit that some schools will inevitably go under due to financial strain.
“I do predict several HBCUs will close,” said Jarrett Carter, editor of HBCU Digest. “It’s not a question of if, but when.”
As McClatchy points out, HBCUs “suffer disproportionately from small endowments, subpar facilities and underprepared students.” Also, changes proposed by the Obama administration to link financial aid to graduation rates would negatively impact HBCUs.
As BreakingBrown previously reported, Howard University had its credit rating downgraded by Moody’s Investment Service. In addition, Morehouse eliminated 66 administrative jobs to reduce costs.
This is causing many observers to worry about what a world without HBCUs would look. Why? HBCUs take in poorer students, including some with lower standardized test scores. Others are speculating on whether it is time for some HBCUs to merge with other university systems.