What Impact Do HBCUs Have On The US Economy?

Written by Dana Sanchez

Historically black colleges and universities account for a quarter of the degrees earned by African Americans in STEM fields — science, technology, engineering and math — but the country’s 101 accredited HBCUs represent just 3 percent of public and nonprofit private institutions receiving federal student aid.
HBCUs contribute nearly $15 billion to the U.S. economy, according to a new report by The United Negro College Fund (UNCF).  The study prepared by the University of Georgia’s Selig Center for Economic Growth.
Nationally, HBCUs are educating and preparing students for “an information-age workforce,” said Michael L. Lomax, president and CEO of the UNCF, in a prepared statement. Locally, they’re a powerful economic engine that generates jobs, income and spending in the cities where they are located.
“The study demonstrates conclusively that HBCUs are not only relevant to the country’s economic health and vigor, they are necessary,” Lomax said.
There are 101 public and private accredited HBCUs concentrated in 19 states — mainly in the Southeast — the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands. They enroll almost 300,000 students — about 80 percent are African American, and 70 percent are from low-income families.
HBCUs (they’re listed alphabetically here) enjoy disproportionate success at helping African American college students earn bachelor’s degrees, according to the report.

For example, in 2014, HBCUs:

  • Accounted for just 3 percent of public and nonprofit private institutions receiving federal student aid.
  • Enrolled 10 percent of African American college students nationwide.
  • Accounted for 17 percent of the bachelor’s degrees earned by African Americans and 24 percent of the degrees earned by African Americans in STEM fields.

The top eight institutions where African American Ph.D.s in science and engineering earned their bachelor’s degrees from 2002 to 2011 were all HBCUs, according to the National Science Foundation.

Here are more findings from the report:

  • Combined, the country’s HBCUs generate $14.8 billion in economic impact a year — equivalent
    to a ranking in the top 200 on the Fortune 500 list of America’s largest corporations. This estimate
    includes direct spending by HBCUs on faculty, employees, academic programs and operations, and
    by students attending the institutions, and follow-on effects of that spending.
  • Public HBCUs account for $9.6 billion of the total economic impact.
  • Private HBCUs account for $5.2 billion of the total economic impact.
  • Every dollar spent by a HBCU and its students generates $1.44 in initial and subsequent spending for the institution’s local and regional economies. Many HBCUs are in regions where overall economic activity has been lagging, making the colleges’ economic contributions to those communities all the more essential.
  • HBCUs generate about 134,000 jobs in their local and regional economies.
  • HBCU graduates can expect work-life earnings of an additional $927,000 per graduate or 56 percent more than they could expect to earn without their HBCU degrees or certificates.
  • The country’s HBCUs generate 134,090 jobs, equivalent to the number of jobs provided by Oracle, the 48th largest private employer in the U.S. Of these, 57,868 are on-campus jobs, and 76,222 are off-campus jobs.
  • For each job created on an HBCU campus, another 1.3 public- and private-sector jobs are created
    off campus because of HBCU-related spending.
  • Each $1 million initially spent by an HBCU and its students creates 13 jobs.impact of HBCUs


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