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Federal Student Financial Aid and African American Students
Axcess Studios What Makes Us Stand Out

Federal student aid is a vital resource for many African American students to finance their college education and related expenses. This reality is rooted in the fact that historically (as well as presently), African Americans have lower median incomes and less wealth than white Americans with which to finance college education. In 2022, Black median income was $52,860, the lowest of all outlined groups. White median income stood at $81,060. According to the Pew Research Center, median Black household wealth was $27K and the median household wealth for whites was $250K. Asian Americans hold the highest median household wealth–$321K.

However, reporting from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) illuminates the fact that 72% of all undergraduates received some financial aid in the 2019-2020 school year. According to the report, 40% of undergraduates received federal Pell grants, and 34% received Direct Loans. The average Pell Grant award for undergraduates was $4.1K, while the average Direct Loan amount was $6.5K (including subsidized and unsubsidized loans). Variations by race/ethnicity exist, with non-Hispanic Black undergraduates receiving average federal student aid awards of $9.7K, while non-Hispanic Whites received $8.8K on average.

Other data provide useful insights about financial aid statistics for students attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). For example, additional NCES research finds that 90% of undergraduate students at HBCUs received some financial aid in the 2019-2020 academic year. Specifically, 83% received grants, 65% took out student loans, and 18% used federal Direct PLUS Loans (parent loans). Also, a June 2023 report from Goldman Sachs outlines that about 60% of students at HBCUs received a Pell Grant award, compared to about 30% of those at non-HBCUs in 2021. Similarly, about 60% of HBCU students took out federal student loans, compared to about 40% of students at non-HBCUs over the same time period.

Historical data also detail financial aid use for HBCU students. A 2010, special report from The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education (JBHE) discussed Pell grant use among African Americans. Generally, it found that in the 2008-2009 school year, some $18B in Pell grants were distributed, with $2.8K being the average award. Nearly half of Black undergraduates received Pell grants, with this group receiving $4.5B in the same academic year. The report also states that at most HBCUs, at least two-thirds of students received federal Pell Grants.

Data from an NCES 2002 survey found that 77% of full-time undergraduates attending HBCUs received financial aid as compared to 70% of students at all institutions. For those attending 4-year public HBCUs, 73% of first-time degree seekers were awarded financial aid in comparison to 71% of similar students at all institutions. Finally, for students attending 4-year, private (not-for-profit) HBCUs, about 87% of students received financial aid, while the same measure for all institutions stood at 83%.

Without federal aid, many African American students would be unable to attend college—HBCUs or otherwise. In order to assist our HBCU student residents, Student Housing of America, Inc., (SHA) gives support in the form of scholarships. To date, we and our corporate partner have issued 26 scholarships at $3,000 each, for a total of $78,000. And, we are not finished yet!

In addition to providing safe, affordable student housing, SHA offers multiple support programs to create stable living environments through need-based grants and zero-interest loans. SHA also provides a pathway to success through informational videos and seminars on subjects such as financial management, personal security, and mental as well as physical wellness so students can realize their aspirations. Finally, at our properties, we provide rent insurance so student residents are not affected by bad credit stemming from unpaid rent and can have a future with little to no setbacks.

Student Housing of America, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization created to serve the needs of HBCU college students. Please consider donating to expand and advance our mission. Donate today!

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