A new report from the Century Foundation, a progressive, independent think tank focused on equity in education, health care and work, explores the extent of public underfunding for historically Black colleges and universities and the financial ramifications for the affected institutions, students and parents.
The report, released Tuesday, found that non-HBCUs had significantly larger endowments than their HBCU counterparts. The average endowment per student for public colleges, $25,390, was more than three times larger than the average endowment of $7,265 per student at public HBCUs. At private institutions, the average endowment per student was more than seven times larger — $184,409 compared to $24,989 at private HBCUs.
In a ranking of higher education endowment sizes, no HBCUs made the top 100, and the HBCU with the largest endowment, Howard University, ranks 160th on the list.
The report says HBCUs need an influx of $53 billion in endowment funds to cover the loan debt burdening HBCU students and their parents, described as a symptom of historic state and federal underfunding. The report proposes Congress put $40 billion toward that goal, with the rest of the money coming from matching funds from states or private sources.
“While lawmakers extol the virtues of HBCUs in their words, their actions have deprived these illustrious institutions with the funding needed to ensure their financial stability, independence, and continued academic excellence,” Denise A. Smith, a fellow at the foundation and author of the report, said in a press release. “Much like the racial wealth gap, our ongoing short-changing of HBCUs and failure to address historical funding gaps have forced HBCUs to operate today at a severe disadvantage. It’s time to fix that.”