Two Charts Show How Essential HBCUs Are to Low-Income College Students

Liberal think tank Third Way has released a report detailing how a vast number of American colleges and universities are underserving students from low-income households. Some key facts from the executive summary of the report:

  • After six years, only 49% of first-time, full-time Pell recipients earned a bachelor’s degree at the institution where they started.
  • Only 47% of institutions graduated half or more of the Pell students who initially enrolled.
  • 214 institutions have Pell graduation rates lower than 25%. Of the more than 60,000 Pell students initially enrolled at these institutions combined, only 9,904 of them (16%) graduated within six years.

Here’s the way that looks through the magic of data visualization.

Of the thousands of four-year schools included in Third Way’s outline, Pell Grant receiving students account for about 20-50 percent of most schools’ total enrollment and typically graduate at a rate of 30-55 percent within six years.

Now here is the visualization for historically black institutions.

HBCUs almost exclusively are comprised of students receiving Pell Grant assistance, with all but two institutions at 40 percent Pell enrollment or above, and the vast majority above 70 percent. Graduation rates for the majority of HBCU Pell students range between 20-45 percent.

The bottom line? HBCUs enroll students from low-income households and communities at a clip that is 20 percent higher than most colleges and universities with far greater resources to support tuition assistance, tutoring and mentoring, and intrusive monitoring of academic progress. And they graduate these students at roughly the same clip over the course of six years as their peer institutions.

So while higher education is just discovering that educating underrepresented students is the future of the industry, HBCUs have been at the forefront of the movement for decades. And continue to lead in creating access and opportunity for the best and the brightest, and those waiting for the opportunity to realize their full potential.

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