Data Shows 47% of All Four-Year HBCUs Have Financial Stress Symptoms Which Could Lead to Closure

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of colleges and universities nationwide were showing signs of financial vulnerabilities that could lead to closure over a course of years, with nearly half of all public and private four-year historically black institutions falling into this category.

A new analysis by the Hechinger Report includes a tool built on federal college and university data which provides a baseline for stability in enrollment, tuition revenue, public funding, and endowment health. Any metric which has declined more than 20% over a seven-year period is a red flag for vulnerability, and two or more negative metrics classify a school as financially stressed.

From the Hechinger Report:

Many factors can cause colleges to struggle financially, according to a review of the data and interviews with 39 college finance researchers, student advocates, state officials, school administrators and faculty members. Over the last decade, enrollment slipped as the economy grew. Demographics are working against institutions in parts of the country as the number of teens — and thus the number of high school graduates — drops.  State support still lags behind what it was before the Great Recession. Many colleges and universities have a history of mismanaging their finances, increasing spending even as enrollments fell or going deeply into debt to construct new buildings.

While the report outlines that many financially stressed schools can operate for years before formally closing, dramatic cuts to programs and personnel exacerbate the cycle of losing students and struggles to build an institutional profile.

Below is a list of four-year HBCUs and the number of self-reported financial factors for each institution with declines at or below the 20% decline threshold.

Alabama A&M (1), Alabama State (2), Miles (1), Oakwood (0), Stillman(3), Talladega (2), Tuskegee (0)

Arkansas Baptist (2), Philander Smith (2), UAPB(1)

Delaware State (0)

Washington D.C.
Howard (0), Univ. of the District of Columbia (1)

Bethune-Cookman (3), Florida A&M (1), Edward Waters (3), Florida Memorial (3)

Albany State (0), Clark Atlanta (0), Fort Valley State (1), Morehouse (0), Paine (3), Savannah State (1), Spelman (0)

Kentucky State (3), Simmons College (Not Available)

Dillard (1), Grambling (1), Southern A&M (2), SUNO (3), Xavier (0)

Bowie State (1), Coppin State (1), Morgan State (0), UMES (2)

Alcorn State (1), Jackson State (2), Mississippi Valley (2), Rust (1), Tougaloo (1)

Harris-Stowe (2), Lincoln (4)

North Carolina
Bennett (3), Elizabeth City State (2), Fayetteville State (0), Johnson C. Smith (1), Livingstone (1), North Carolina A&T (0), NCCU (1), Saint Augustine’s (2), Shaw (2), Winston-Salem State (0),

Langston (2)

Wilberforce(3), Central State (3),

Cheyney (3), Lincoln (1)

South Carolina
Allen (2), Benedict (3), Claflin (0), Clinton (0), Morris (2), South Carolina State (2), Voorhees (2)

American Baptist (2), Fisk (1), Lane (2), LeMoyne-Owen (3), Tennessee State (1)

Huston-Tillotson (2), Jarvis Christian (3), Paul Quinn (1), Prairie View A&M (1), Texas College (1), Texas Southern(2), Wiley (3)

Hampton (0), Norfolk State (1), Virginia State (1), Virginia Union (2), Virginia University of Lynchburg (0),

West Virginia
Bluefield State (3), West Virginia State (2)