I have been thinking about this topic for a while now and have decided to put it out there for discussion. HBCU’s provide a terrific experience to students and those of us who attended them have tremendous pride in our beloved institutions (Morehouse, Spelman, Hampton, Howard, FAMU, CAU, Southern, Xavier, Tuskegee, etc). Overall, I enjoyed my HBCU experience as a student and like many, there are 3 generations of Morehouse and Spelman graduates in my family. However, now that I’m getting established into my Career (I work in online recruitment) I am starting to question whether or not it is still worth it for youth to attend HBCU’s vs. other PWI’s in their respective states. My grandparents went to Morehouse/Spelman because in the 1930’s and 40’s it made absolute sense. Better experience and less racism is a no brainer. But today we have options.
If I had an 18 year old child today and we were considering schools, I would likely push harder for a state school with low tuition (Georgia State is my local example) or any similar school where you may live. This has nothing to do with the HBCU experience- like I said, attending an HBCU is great for exposure, education from an African American perspective, parties, etc. This is strictly related to the bottom line – financial investment and realistic opportunities gained from it. As an example, the full time tuition for Morehouse and Spelman for an on campus student is in excess of $30k per year now. Hampton University’s tuition costs range from $24k-32k depending on the program you select. Clark Atlanta University and Howard University appear to be a bit more reasonable at $16k-$18k. Regardless, this is a huge investment to attend schools that sometimes can lack a lot of majors and academic programs and have less campus resources than alternative PWI’s.
PWI’s (like Georgia State in this example) offer tons of available majors and academic programs and the tuition is a fraction of the cost of HBCU’s such as one the one’s I mentioned above (free if you have HOPE Scholarship). So I’m wondering….why would someone spend $30k/year for 4 years just to get a $30k-40k entry level job, when they could go to a PWI for minimal debt and get the same job in better financial shape? Or perhaps a better job since they have more major selections? Has anyone else thought of this or had this discussion with the administrations? HBCU’s were founded to help African Americans better educate themselves and improve their quality of life, but I’m starting to think they also put us in worse financial shape and for many that is a tough way to begin a career and could set some people up for a lot of financial difficulties.