September 1, 2023
While college enrollment has declined overall in recent years, in part due to the coronavirus pandemic, some historically Black colleges and universities have seen an influx of applicants – a trend experts say is likely to continue in the wake of the recent Supreme Court ruling ending race-conscious admissions.
“HBCUs in particular have been creating opportunities for African Americans and other people of color for almost 200 years now,” says Tony Allen, president and chief executive officer of Delaware State University. “And we do believe that there is a unique opportunity for us to attract more students as a result of this decision.”
The effects of the June 2023 ruling won’t be felt until future admissions cycles. But Spelman College, a private women’s HBCU in Atlanta, for instance, received more than 11,000 applications for the 2021-2022 admissions cycle – a 20% increase from the year prior, and the highest number in the school’s history. Right next door, Morehouse College experienced an even larger increase in applications, 86%, between the academic years of 2019-2020 and 2021-2022.
Not all HBCUs have experienced this recent large jump in admissions. The number of HBCU students increased by 47% between 1976 and 2010, but declined 12% between 2010 and 2021, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics.
Many HBCUs have also recently captured the attention of wealthy donors. For example, philanthropist Mackenzie Scott, former wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, donated more than $500 million to 23 HBCUs in 2020.
Here are two kinds of changes HBCUs could see in the post-affirmative action climate.