On June 29th of this year, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruled that affirmative action could no longer be used in college admissions. This ruling has and will continue to change the admissions landscape for colleges and universities across the nation. Students of color will feel the impact of the SCOTUS decision for years to come.
Attention on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) rose after the monumental decision. These institutions are increasingly thought to be “alternatives” for some Black and other students of color due to factors such as affordability and favorable campus climates. Admissions at many HBCUs have increased in recent years; however, questions remain about the ability of these institutions to absorb additional students. In 2021, approximately 287,000 students attended HBCUs. Over the next few years, enrollments are expected to increase by 90,000.
Recently, the HBCU Transformation Project received $124M to aid 40 partner institutions in achieving outcomes such as increasing enrollment and retention as well as improving graduation rates. Two HBCUs in Maryland, Coppin State University and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore are creatively attempting to increase enrollments by affording in-state tuition to first-time, out-of-state undergraduate students with limited or no HBCUs in their respective home states.
The HBCU Transformation Project, which is a partnership between the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF), and Partnership for Education Advancement (Ed Advancement), also aims to address decades of inadequate funding of HBCUs. Concomitantly, governors in 16 southern states received letters from the Biden administration in September asking them to address the underfunding of land grant HBCUs in their respective states, totaling some $12B in just the past 30 years.
Such systematic funding shortfalls have and continue to impact infrastructure investment and maintenance at HBCUs. This is true with respect to adequate housing for students. Student Housing of America, Inc. (SHA) recently announced its HBCU Healthy Housing (H3) Initiative. It partners with HBCUs to renovate distressed properties near universities to provide modern, safe, and affordable housing for college students. SHA’s mission is to help students be successful throughout their college careers by providing safe and affordable housing designed for their scholastic needs and creating a positive environment for achievement through our various support programs.
Another concern that HBCUs must contend with during this phase after the recent SCOTUS affirmative action ruling includes political and budgetary maneuvering to “attack” HBCUs for historically being diverse and inclusive. For example, earlier this year in Georgia, state-funded HBCUs became the focus of those who aim to eliminate Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) efforts. The $66M in budget cuts for the University System of Georgia will dramatically impact the three HBCUs in the state, as they do not have sufficient reserves to sustain the loss of state funding.
While many uncertainties remain about the HBCU terrain given the end of affirmative action in college admissions, two things remain true. First, HBCUs will remain welcoming spaces for those seeking higher education opportunities. This reality is engrained in the DNA of HBCUs. Second, despite only representing about 3 percent of colleges and universities in the nation, HBCUs will continue to be leaders in producing Black graduates and professionals.
Student Housing of America, Inc., is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization established in 1999. We work hand-in-hand with HBCUs, corporate partners, other organizations, and donors to address students’ housing needs and provide for their well-being.
Please consider donating to support our efforts to provide safe, affordable housing and champion HBCU students, their academic endeavors, and overall well-being.