Few National Achievement Scholars Enroll at Historically Black Colleges and Universities

In 1964 the National Merit Scholarship Corporation founded the National Achievement Scholarship Program for Outstanding Negro Students. The program, which is explicitly restricted to blacks, awarded 815 scholarships in 2008 valued at $2.6 million.

In recent years National Achievement Scholars flocked to historically black colleges and universities. For example, in 1996 Florida A&M University, the historically black educational institution in Tallahassee, enrolled 73 National Achievement Scholars, more than any other college or university in the nation. In the fall of 2006 only one of the 800 National Achievement Scholars enrolled at Florida A&M. However, there has been a significant rebound from FAMU’s historic lows. There are 11 black Achievement Scholars in this year’s freshman class at Florida A&M.

The drop in Achievement Scholars has also been apparent at other historically black educational institutions. In 2002 there were 54 Achievement Scholars at Howard University. This year there are only 14.

In 2008 Harvard University enrolled 58 National Achievement Scholars, the most of any educational institution in the United States. Yale, Stanford, Duke, MIT, and the University of Pennsylvania all enrolled more than 30 National Achievement Scholars.

Clearly the nation’s wealthy, predominantly white educational institutions are making a concerted effort to attract National Achievement Scholars. It appears that the nation’s historically black institutions, with far fewer financial assets, are having difficulty competing for these students.