Apart No More? HBCUs Heading Into an Era of Change

As the economic downturn grows longer and more severe, it’s hard to find any proposals to cut costs that can be taken completely off the table. Programs that were recently considered untouchable have now been placed under the budgetary microscope.

In a couple of states — Mississippi and Georgia — government officials have even started questioning the status of public HBCUs — historically black colleges and universities. By doing so, however, those officials might only be speeding up a process of HBCUs becoming mainstream that is complete in West Virginia and is well under way in North Carolina.

HBCU is an official designation given by the federal government in the Education Act of 1965 to all institutions of higher education that had been created primarily to educate African-Americans. Such schools are eligible to receive special types of federal funding. Colleges that were either founded after 1964 or had a predominantly white student body at that time are not considered HBCUs.


Pictured: Members of the Morehouse College 2002 graduating class sing their school song during commencement ceremonies May 19, 2002 in Atlanta. About 500 men received their undergraduate degrees from the predominately black school. (Photo by Erik S. Lesser/Getty Images)