National Institute on Aging

New Reports Shows How HBCUs Are a Major Contributor to Social Mobility for African Americans

A new report from the Frederick D. Patterson Research Institute at the United Negro College Fund, finds that despite offering admission to a significant number of underserved students, historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are remarkably successful at supporting social mobility among their students.

According to the report, social mobility has emerged as a primary measure for understanding the return on investment for the families of college students as well as society more broadly. The report illustrates the effectiveness of HBCUs with educating African Americans and leading them to higher earnings after graduating from college.

The major findingss of the study are that HBCUs serve more economically disenfranchised students than most U.S. institutions. The percentage of HBCUs that educate low-income students in comparison to the nationwide average is nearly 30 percent higher. When compared to other institutional types, HBCUs’ average access rate is more than twice that of all institutions nationwide and five times that of “Ivy Plus” institutions. These access rates reflect the fact that more than 70 percent of HBCU students are Pell Grant-eligible, and 39 percent are first-generation college students.

On average and across institution type, when it comes to mobility rates HBCUs outperformall other categories and are double the national rate, being the primary postsecondary driver for moving Black Americans from poverty to the middle class.

“These findings demonstrate that investment in HBCUs builds institutions that are primary drivers of success for historically marginalized people. Contributing to the advancement of an HBCU directly influences the continued improvement of economic outcomes for Black Americans — and by extension, our society-at-large,” said Nadrea Njoku, interim director of the Frederick D. Patterson Research Institute.

The full report, HBCUs Transforming Generations: Social Mobility Outcomes for HBCU Alumni, may be downloaded by clicking here.


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  1. HBCU Watch says:

    No Kidding! Now it’s time to conduct some serious substantive research on HBCUs.

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