Positive HBCU Headlines, but Student Debt Continues to be a Long-Term Weight

Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs) have long provided strong educations while building rich communities that serve the student long after graduation. Those universities have been in the news and getting more attention in the past 18 months, and for good reason.

Massive donations from billionaires like MacKenzie Scott and Reed Hastings to approximately 30 HBCUs have improved the financial security on these universities and surely will have student impact.  Corporations like Intel, Fidelity, and Kroger have increased recruiting at HBCUs and increased hiring will build a pipeline of diverse candidates for leadership opportunities in the future.  Also, COVID relief funds were utilized by some HBCUs to cancel student debt for a select number of students.

These are critical investments in higher education that can be part of building a more diverse and equal society, but we cannot consider the box checked.  Students who want to attend HBCUs still struggle to afford the tuition and rely heavily on student loans.  Black students borrow at a higher percentage of their total tuition cost than any other demographic in the nation, and they also have more difficulty in repaying their loans due to lower comparative earnings and minimal help from their families.  It has been estimated by some studies that 20 years after taking out student loans, the typical Black student still owes 95% of their loan balance versus just 5% owed by their white counterparts.

These facts make economic mobility perpetually difficult for Black students after graduation despite the massive donations, progress in corporate recruitment and limited actions on student loan forgiveness.

Trajectory Foundation believes that we can help, in our own small way, by reducing the students’ reliance on loans from the moment they step on campus.  We get to know our students in a way other scholarship offerings can’t by being more than a resource to their financial well-being.  We check-in with student’s progress and offer help with resumes, coaching, and letters of recommendation.  We may be small but students feel the impact our donor community provides.