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Related: Black colleges face uphill battle to survive The numbers are a welcome boost for HBCUs, many of which have struggled financially and otherwise in recent years.
Most of the first HBCUs were founded during Reconstruction so that freed slaves could obtain a higher education; the schools have produced such noteworthy graduates as Martin Luther King Jr. But although HBCUs drew 80 percent of all black college-goers four decades ago, that number had been hovering at just over 10 percent, according to a 2013 report by Gasman.
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At Spelman, prospective students are mentioning the social climate more often in their application essays, Hayes said.
They “have a heightened sense of awareness regarding the social and political conversations that have exploded in the last several years,” and are “coming of age at a time when they’re compelled to speak up.” Analysts also point to efforts by the schools themselves.
Although many schools are still crunching the numbers, about a third of all HBCUs have seen spikes in freshmen enrollment this year, said Marybeth Gasman, higher education professor at the University of Pennsylvania and director of the Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions Several observers, including Gasman, primarily attribute the surge in interest to racial tensions on and off college campuses — the “push” of which Wade spoke.
But others say the schools themselves deserve at least some of the credit, for making changes in everything from recruiting practices to out-of-state tuition prices.
All students must register online, print and bring their Admittance Pass.
Gasman said she is hearing more than ever before from parents who “don’t want [their children] to deal with what they’re seeing in other places.” Black students, she said, “are feeling they need a place to go that has them in mind.” Such calls and emails from parents usually increase after police shootings, she said.
Gasman also pointed to a Facebook group, “The HBCU vs PWI [predominantly white institution] Great Debate,” where students and parents have expressed similar feelings.
To date, the Historically Black College and University (HBCU) Capital Financing Loan Program has originated loans to 45 HBCUs nine public HBCUs and 36 private HBCUs).
These colleges and universities have used their loan proceeds to refinance previous capital project loans, to renovate existing facilities, to build new facilities, or to achieve any combination of the three.