At the Black Colleges, Pell Grant Students Are the Norm

In past weeks JBHE has reported that there are very few low-income students at the vast majority of leading colleges and universities. But at most of the nation’s historically black colleges and universities, the majority of all students receive federal Pell Grants, which are reserved for students who come from low-income families.

In 2008 more than 155,000 students at the nation’s historically black colleges and universities received federal Pell Grants for low-income students. In fact, at a majority of all black colleges, two thirds or more of all enrolled students receive federal Pell Grants. There are eight HBCUs at which more than 90 percent of all students receive Pell Grants. At Arkansas Baptist College 96.8 percent of all undergraduate students qualify for federal Pell Grants, the highest percentage among the black colleges and universities. Lane College, Morris College, Mississippi Valley State University, Miles College, Texas College, Benedict College, and Allen University each have a student body of which 90 percent or more receive Pell Grant awards.

There are another nine black colleges and universities where more than 80 percent of the students are Pell Grant recipients. There are only 13 HBCUs at which low-income students are not a majority of all students. Among these schools are many of the nation’s more selective black colleges and universities. Spelman College and Morehouse College in Atlanta have less than 40 percent of their undergraduate students who qualify for Pell Grant awards. Hampton University in Virginia has the lowest percentage of Pell Grant recipients among the HBCUs. Hampton is the only HBCU where low-income students make up less than one third of the undergraduate student body. Howard University, the highly regarded historically black university in the nation’s capital, has the second-lowest percentage of Pell Grant recipients among the HBCUs. At Howard University, only 35.3 percent of all undergraduates received federal Pell Grants in the 2008-09 academic year.