- A new report from the United Negro College Fund's Fredrick D. Patterson Research Institute details the economic impact of historically black colleges and universities on the national economy: $14.8 billion, which is about $4.6 billion more than was recorded in 2006, when the last economic impact study was commissioned. Researchers found that for every dollar spent on the institutions, $1.44 goes back into the local economy.
- The report found the roughly-100 institutions are responsible for 134,090 jobs in their local regions and over $130 billion in graduate earnings.
- Public institutions account for 65% of the economic impact, or $9.6 billion, while private institutions account for 35%, or $5.2 billion.
As HBCU Digest editor Jarrett Carter pointed out, while the numbers are encouraging, given they represent an uptick from the last report, the demonstrated collective impact of the institutions still falls significantly lower than some large public systems of higher education. For example, the University of North Carolina System — which includes six HBCUs and 17 total institutions — has an economic impact of $27.9 billion.
However, when you qualify this impact against the data which says 70% of the students attending these schools receive Pell grants, the idea that they earn 56% more after receiving their degrees speaks to the social mobility metric which is increasingly one of the greatest determinants of ROI of higher education. A recent Education Trust study found that more than half of HBCUs enroll a student population in which more than 75% of students are receiving Pell grants, and at some of the schools, that number is over 90%. Comparatively, only 1% of other institutions in the study serve high Pell populations. And recent data has shown higher ed as a sector, at least among public colleges, is actually backsliding on access for these students, who are more expensive to retain and graduate.
It is also worth mentioning that these institutions are making this amount of progress in spite of historically and persistently lower funding and lower tuition revenues and rates of philanthropy than their in-state counterparts, and while doing the more expensive remediation work other which is often necessary for a Pell-dependent population which often indicates origins in underperforming K-12 systems.