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Obstacles and Underinvestment: Black Students and Higher Education
Axcess Studios What Makes Us Stand Out

One of the Black students’ most common challenges is access to resources within higher education. State and federal funding disparities essentially keep Black students from needed resources—at both Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Predominantly White Institutions (PWIs). Historically, Black enrollments have been low at PWIs due to factors like segregation and discrimination. Therefore, fewer Black students have been able to take advantage of the resources at well-funded institutions. At the same time, HBCUs enroll large numbers of Black students; however, due to underfunding, the resources they require to be successful are not as available as they would be at PWIs.

A Forbes investigation determined that the 18 Black land-grant HBCUs were underfunded by nearly $13B between 1987 and 2020. Despite this, the report states that HBCUs, representing about 3% of higher education institutions, produce 80% of Black judges, 50% of Black lawyers and doctors, and 25% of Black science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) graduates. Still, due to limited investment and underfunding, these students also often contend with fewer resources and lower-quality facilities.

Student Housing of America Inc.’s HBCU Healthy Housing (H3) Initiative creates the opportunity to partner with HBCUs to help mitigate issues related to the underfunding of HBCUs, such as renovating distressed properties near the university to provide state-of-the-art, safe, and affordable housing for college students. The H3 initiative takes a holistic approach to student residents by offering a framework of support that promotes academic success and overall well-being.

Redlining is yet another issue that impacts Black students when seeking higher education. Redlining is an illegal, discriminatory practice affecting access to mortgages, student loans, and personal loans. HBCUs can sometimes be affected by redlining in the form of reverse redlining, where minority communities are subject to unfair lending or higher prices. Gentrification of minority communities also impacts HBCU students because off-campus housing becomes unaffordable. Another form of redlining, educational redlining, affects HBCU students due to lending institutions charging higher costs to students attending HBCUs. The Fair Housing Act and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act prohibits redlining, and the Department of Justice has redoubled its efforts to combat redlining through a recent initiative that will work to enforce the nation’s fair lending laws.

To do its part to combat redlining, SHA provides multiple support programs to create a stable living environment through need-based grants and zero-interest loans. SHA also provides a pathway to success through informational videos and seminars on various subjects such as financial management, security, and mental and physical wellness so that students can realize their aspirations.

In recent years, there have been attempts to address the underfunding issues many HBCUs face. The Biden administration has funded HBCUs to the tune of $5.8B. Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott donated $550M to select HBCUs in 2020. In addition, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently awarded $5.5M to Texas Southern University and North Carolina A&T University, both HBCUs, to support Centers of Excellence that conduct housing and community development research. These funding efforts benefit HBCU students and communities by focusing on individual and community wealth building, housing security and stability, and planning and infrastructure inequity in underserved communities, which are many foundational structures SHA builds upon to support students in their housing communities.

While there are multiple obstacles that Black students and HBCUs must continue to overcome, Student Housing of America, Inc. is committed to working with schools, investors, and other organizations to ensure the success of Black students. Please consider donating to support efforts to champion HBCU students, their academic endeavors, and overall well-being and provide safe, affordable student housing.

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