Monthly Archives: January 2013

Prairie View A&M University Costing Students $90,000 With Athletic And Scholarship Fee


It is easy to be generous with other people’s money. — Latin proverb

By William A. Foster, IV

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The numbers do not lie. The African American median net worth is $2,170. European and Asian America’s median net worth is approximately $100,000 as reported by the Economic Policy Institute and Pew Research, respectively. The unemployment rate for African America is 14 percent while European and Asian America’s unemployment rates are 6.9 and 6.6 percent respectively.  At Prairie View A&M University 69 percent of their students are graduating with debt while Texas A&M University, its most prominent HWCU competitor, is graduating only 46 percent of its students with debt. Yet, the leadership at Prairie View seems to believe that it can operate largely and should chase the same objectives that its competitor has. In an article recently written by Nelson Bowman, Prairie View A&M University’s Executive Director of Development, admits that 95 percent of the student body is financial aid dependent. That most of financial aid for African Americans ends up as some form of student loan debt seems to be missed on the university’s leadership.

I grew up at Prairie View A&M University. My father’s family legacy runs deep with purple and gold. Many of the important first in my life even happen on that campus. I earned my master’s there in community development so there is a strong emotional investment to see this school improve in every way possible. That being said it can not do so on the back of its students because it can not find creative ways to raise funds for projects. Ultimately, if a college or university can not raise the money from alumni, outside sources, and endowment returns then it just simply does not need to engage the project. Asking students who are going to graduate playing catch up in terms of wealth and income or asking HBCU faculty and staff who are already underpaid and overworked in comparison to their peers is simply an apathetic way to show improvement without actually having to put much thought into actual achieving any.

It was during my time in graduate school that the current administration proposed building a $50 million athletic complex (it only has a $10.8 million research budget) as well as proposed to implement a $10 per credit hour fee onto student to help build the athletic department’s scholarships and improve their facilities. Some would argue a guise to help the university raise money for its proposed $50 million proposed athletic complex for which it could not use any state funds it had received to do so. Either way students were asked to bear the burden essentially by adding to the amount they already would need to borrow in student loans. Even more recent I had lunch with my cousin, an engineering major at Prairie View A&M University, who told me of a new $10 fee that was being added. He said it was being used to build the endowment as he understood it and provide a permanent endowed scholarship. Wait, what? You are asking students to borrow more money to fund a scholarship that they themselves actually need. A scholarships purpose is to decrease student debt but instead they are increasing their student debt. I guess standing outside in the rain when you have a house will keep you dry. There was something sad, unimaginative, comical, and paradoxical in all of it. Students of course approved the athletic and scholarship fee believing they were doing something to help their school. Somehow this is being sold to students as “giving” and not adding to their debt which will already have them at a wealth disadvantage upon graduation. A disadvantage they have to try and close with an income gap that currently has African Americans earning $0.65 for every $1.00 European Americans earn, wealth almost 50 times less than European and Asian Americans, and unemployment twice as high as their counterparts.

Just how much is this $150 athletic fee and $10 scholarship fee costing students? Federal statistics show that only approximately 40 percent of African Americans will graduate from undergraduate within six years. If one considers that a majority of Prairie View A&M University students will take six years to graduate it means they paid $960 over their six year academic career. What happens if they had been able to put that $960 into a Roth IRA or other investment account and just bought a standard S&P 500 Index? Over the next forty years at the historical average return of 12 percent that $960 would be worth $89 328.93 at retirement. What else is that $960 equal?

  • It would be equivalent to 5 months worth of savings at the current African American monthly savings rate. Something the majority of African American families did not have in the recent financial crisis.
  • As a percentage of the African American median net worth it is 44.2 percent.
  • Equal to 36 percent of the monthly median income for African Americans

The goal HBCUs should be working toward is decreasing their student debt burdens. By doing this it allows students to reach a point of wealth faster that they can be contributing alumni without sacrificing the financial health of their families. A complicated matter for African Americans who earn less and have higher student loan debt burdens while starting off with a wealth gap. Having less student loan debt also allows for the pursuit of home ownership faster and more importantly the ability to save money for the creation of businesses. Those businesses then can generate the kind of wealth that could provide seven and eight figure donations, employment faster for graduating students, and garner political influence for the HBCU. The logic that somehow burdening the students of today who will be the parents of tomorrow’s HBCU student makes little to no sense. It in fact endangers the possibility that the HBCU student of today and the parent of tomorrow will be forced to send their child elsewhere. Especially, if they are still paying off debt and must send their child to the school offering the most non-debt financial aid. Prairie View A&M University prides itself on saying it produces productive people. It must move beyond productive and do all it can so that it can produce powerful people. Ignoring the reality of its core demographic in its strategic planning to achieve that goal and mimicking HWCU behavior is something that far too many HBCUs are guilty of and it will be at the peril of our future if such behavior continues.

EDITOR’S CORRECTION: The fees are by semester. Therefore the $960 is actually $1 920 over six years. The cost to students is approximately $180 000.

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Student Debt Profile By Conference (School By School) – The MEAC


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Bethune-Cookman University

Average debt of graduates, 2011 – $21 528

Proportion of graduates with debt, 2011 – 96%

Nonfederal debt, % of total debt of graduates, 2011 – 11%

2010-11 Pell Grant recipients – 78%

Coppin State University

Average debt of graduates, 2011 – N/A

Proportion of graduates with debt, 2011 – N/A

Nonfederal debt, % of total debt of graduates, 2011 – N/A

2010-11 Pell Grant recipients – 67%

Delaware State University

Average debt of graduates, 2011 – $45 098

Proportion of graduates with debt, 2011 – 90%

Nonfederal debt, % of total debt of graduates, 2011 – 41%

2010-11 Pell Grant recipients – 60%

Florida A&M University

Average debt of graduates, 2011 – $29 554

Proportion of graduates with debt, 2011 – 84%

Nonfederal debt, % of total debt of graduates, 2011 – 8%

2010-11 Pell Grant recipients – 64%

Hampton University

Average debt of graduates, 2011 – $36 913

Proportion of graduates with debt, 2011 – 93%

Nonfederal debt, % of total debt of graduates, 2011 – N/A

2010-11 Pell Grant recipients – 42%

Howard University

Average debt of graduates, 2011 – $15 080

Proportion of graduates with debt, 2011 – 82%

Nonfederal debt, % of total debt of graduates, 2011 – 29%

2010-11 Pell Grant recipients – 43%

University of Maryland-Eastern Shore

Average debt of graduates, 2011 – $23 688

Proportion of graduates with debt, 2011 – 89%

Nonfederal debt, % of total debt of graduates, 2011 – N/A

2010-11 Pell Grant recipients – 51%

Morgan State University

Average debt of graduates, 2011 – $36 045

Proportion of graduates with debt, 2011 – 68%

Nonfederal debt, % of total debt of graduates, 2011 – 8%

2010-11 Pell Grant recipients – 52%

Norfolk State University

Average debt of graduates, 2011 – N/A

Proportion of graduates with debt, 2011 – N/A

Nonfederal debt, % of total debt of graduates, 2011 – N/A

2010-11 Pell Grant recipients – 61%

North Carolina A&T University

Average debt of graduates, 2011 – $20 389

Proportion of graduates with debt, 2011 – 74%

Nonfederal debt, % of total debt of graduates, 2011 – N/A

2010-11 Pell Grant recipients – 54%

North Carolina Central University

Average debt of graduates, 2011 – N/A

Proportion of graduates with debt, 2011 – N/A

Nonfederal debt, % of total debt of graduates, 2011 – N/A

2010-11 Pell Grant recipients – 58%

Savannah State University

Average debt of graduates, 2011 – N/A

Proportion of graduates with debt, 2011 – N/A

Nonfederal debt, % of total debt of graduates, 2011 – N/A

2010-11 Pell Grant recipients – 74%

South Carolina State University

Average debt of graduates, 2011 – N/A

Proportion of graduates with debt, 2011 – N/A

Nonfederal debt, % of total debt of graduates, 2011 – N/A

2010-11 Pell Grant recipients – 75%

Source: The Project on Student Debt

President Obama Mural At HBCU Business In Houston Defamed – AGAIN


By William A. Foster, IV

The power of the white world is threatened whenever a black man refuses to accept the white world’s definitions. – James Baldwin

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There is something to be said for African Americans. We are some of the most forgiving and oft as Dr. John Henrik Clarke said naive – socially and politically – of the rationale behind the behavior of other groups in their interaction with us. Our desire for acceptance (see assimilation) into the mainstream of America society sometimes makes us accept behavior from others that pushses against our own economic, political, and in this case social interest.

After picking up a friend last night, I headed towards home and we passed one of Houston’s most respected and renowned eateries, The Breakfast Klub. Located in Midtown, an area of Houston which was gentrified and was formerly a combination of the city’s Third and Fourth Wards. That in and of itself could require an entire article to be written but I digress. I glanced over and noticed the mural of President Obama, commissioned by the restaurant’s owners Marcus and Melvinie Davis, to show their immense respect and support for the president had been annihilated with swaths of paint. Mr. and Mrs. Davis are an HBCU family and Mr. Davis proudly and oftly shows his support for his alma mater Texas Southern University for which he also serves as the alumni association’s president.

The mural as I recall was originally put up about four years ago during the now president’s time as a candidate. Even then I recall it being vandalized on numerous occasions with one particular incident involving what appeared to be red paint balls shot toward President Obama’s head in the mural. These acts are brazen to say the least as the owners’ went so far to implement security cameras around it. To say that President Obama has been polarizing and an uncomfortable presidency for America would be an understatement. The image of a powerful African American family has even been polarizing for many and responses to such have ranged from outright threatening to veil undertones of menace. Vandalizing a mural is more than just saying you do not like the president. You can do that on blogs, television shows, twitter, and even in an article. I have even been firmly against some of the president’s policies as they relate to African American development and overall economics. However, I show the office of the president respect whomever is in it, which we know is not a simple or easy job and I show an African American man who is a husband, father, and striving for an ambition beyond himself respect. Something some of our combatants do not seem to want to do. Many in the African American community were not fans of the Bush family. However, you never saw effigies burned in our community towards any of the men holding the office of president no matter how much we disliked them.

Maybe it is our fault that these things continue to happen because there is no consequence to the harming of anything we possess and hold dear when stamped and trampled on by others – not even our very lives. We are always ready to forgive. We are always ready to march. We are never ready to act in self-defense or even take an offensive to show we are not doormats. If anything were to happen to an images or statues of Washington, Reagan, even dare I say Clinton – there would be a call to arms about the sanctity of respecting the institution of the presidency of the United States. Yet, we concede to disrespectful behavior after a few cries and whimpers about not being treated fairly.

This morning after taking another drive past the mural it appears that the owners’ have either decided they have had enough or that they will repaint it better and bolder. It is yet to be determined as they have painted over the entire mural in white paint and in doing so erasing the vandalism and the President’s picture. There is much irony in that prior sentence when one examines it. In the end, I believe they should have left it up for awhile. To send a reminder to African America that if you believe we have arrived because there is an African American president you truly do not understand the war you are beholden in. We have turned both cheeks and even dropped our trousers and had those slapped. Our institutions come under fire and asked if they are relevant. Our citizens from babies sleep in Detroit to men the night before their wedding day in New York day shot down by police and “police” citizens. Our social fabric attacked at every waking and sleeping moment by others.  Will we ever respond or continue to cower our social interest again and again and again for the sake of “peace” and “unity” while our humanity is disrespected and trampled upon?

The HBCU Endowment Feature – Morehouse College


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School Name: Morehouse College

Median Cost of Attendance: $37 416

Undergraduate Population: 2 441

Endowment Needed: $1 826 649 120

Analysis: Morehouse College needs approximately $1.8 billion in order for all of its students to attend debt free. One of the most nationally known Historically Black College & University and the only all-male HBCU, one word comes to mind when it comes to its endowment – baffling. This is primarily because while Morehouse College did not appear on HBCU Money’s 2011 top ten endowments, it was only because they did not report their information in time to NACUBO. For all intents and purposes there is no reason to believe that Morehouse College does not have one of the six $100 million plus endowments amongst HBCUs. Unfortunately, if it does have a $100 million endowment it does not appear it is anywhere near its sister school Spelman’s endowment in value which is potentially three times the size of Morehouse’s endowment. This despite having the backing and donations of Ms. Oprah Winfrey. From all reports she is the school’s largest individual donor – or was. There are reports that Ms. Winfrey’s support is waning due to lack of alumni commitment.

Morehouse College should have a multi-billion endowment. Should. It is one of the few HBCUs with a large base of alumni with a sound concentration in the six-figure income range. Morehouse’s new leadership must tackle this inept giving attitude from alumni to become more engaged givers. The school’s downgrade on its financials by Moody will not only have an effect on Morehouse but will reverberate down the stream for other HBCUs. Despite all of this mire the school has the ingredients to not only right the ship but be a legitimate contender for the first HBCU to a $1 billion endowment. It has the alumni, earning power, and prestige but it must fix the disconnect between its alumni and their endowment. If Morehouse was a financial institution it would fall under the “Too Big To Fail” category and while the college is in no danger of closing its doors, it is itself a bellwether institution and must find a way stop resting on its laurels and become the hungriest of the hungry if it is to take its place among the endowment vanguard of HBCUs once again.

As always it should be noted that endowments provide a myriad of subsidies to the university for everything from scholarship, faculty & administration salaries, research, and much more.

HBCU Money™ Business Book Feature – Liquidated: An Ethnography of Wall Street


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Financial collapses—whether of the junk bond market, the Internet bubble, or the highly leveraged housing market—are often explained as the inevitable result of market cycles: What goes up must come down. In Liquidated, Karen Ho punctures the aura of the abstract, all-powerful market to show how financial markets, and particularly booms and busts, are constructed. Through an in-depth investigation into the everyday experiences and ideologies of Wall Street investment bankers, Ho describes how a financially dominant but highly unstable market system is understood, justified, and produced through the restructuring of corporations and the larger economy.

Ho, who worked at an investment bank herself, argues that bankers’ approaches to financial markets and corporate America are inseparable from the structures and strategies of their workplaces. Her ethnographic analysis of those workplaces is filled with the voices of stressed first-year associates, overworked and alienated analysts, undergraduates eager to be hired, and seasoned managing directors. Recruited from elite universities as “the best and the brightest,” investment bankers are socialized into a world of high risk and high reward. They are paid handsomely, with the understanding that they may be let go at any time. Their workplace culture and networks of privilege create the perception that job insecurity builds character, and employee liquidity results in smart, efficient business. Based on this culture of liquidity and compensation practices tied to profligate deal-making, Wall Street investment bankers reshape corporate America in their own image. Their mission is the creation of shareholder value, but Ho demonstrates that their practices and assumptions often produce crises instead. By connecting the values and actions of investment bankers to the construction of markets and the restructuring of U.S. corporations, Liquidated reveals the particular culture of Wall Street often obscured by triumphalist readings of capitalist globalization.