The 20 Year Review: 1993 & 2013 HBCU Endowments Then & Now

By William A. Foster, IV


The 2013 HBCU Top 10 Endowments list is out. Going forward we will review where HBCUs are today and where they were 20 years ago. NACUBO’s list this year included 849 reporting institutions from the U.S. and Canada. So here are a few fast facts of then and now in regards to HBCUs place in the whole of the endowment conversation.

  • Of the 849 reporting institutions in 2013, only 1.5 percent were HBCUs. HBCUs comprise 3 percent of American colleges and universities. In 1993, Of the 437 reporting institutions in 1993, only 0.9 percent were HBCUs.
  • 20 years ago, the 4 HBCUs who were present on the list had a combined endowment value of $329 135 000 versus the top 4 HWCUs who had a combined endowment value of $15 137 350 000.
  • The endowment wealth gap between the top HWCUs/HBCUs in 2013 was 103:1. In 1993, it was 46:1.
  • In 1993, 16 HWCUs reported endowments over $1 billion and 2 HBCUs reported endowments over $100 million. There were 83 HWCUs in 2013 with reported endowments over $1 billion or an increase of 518 percent. HBCUs increased their ranks of $100 million endowments from 2 to 5 or an increase of 150 percent.

The numbers are disturbing. There are a number of contributing factors to the institutional wealth gap increase. Because institutional wealth factor tends to directly correlate with individual wealth gap, then it should be no surprise that the wealth gap has ballooned and not closed as often perceived. Shrinking HBCU alumni pools are a major factor for this growing gap. An increased pressure in the coming generation will be present as alumni of HBCUs are more likely to graduate with student loan debt and higher student loads making it even harder for development offices to ask for contributions. Fiscal trends are not currently in HBCUs favor unless a real turnaround happens among its ability to recruit more African American high school graduates. Currently, only 10-13 percent of African American high school graduates are choosing HBCUs. A problem compounded with African Americans having the lowest high school graduation rate in the country among all groups. The arms race to increase student bodies and in turn alumni pools is largely based on the aforementioned issues of alumni having less to give because of the student debt loads of the current generation of graduates. There are of course other factors, but at the very heart of this matter this can not be understated in the contribution to the widening gap between HWCU/HBCU endowments.

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