50 Top Colleges for African Americans

Our exclusive ranking yielded some surprises and some staples. And this year, after we show you the best schools, we take a comprehensive look at how to make college affordable.

of less than 50%, because they benefited from having higher black enrollment numbers.

Celebrating its 125th anniversary, Spelman has consistently ranked in the top five of our listing. “After attending a predominantly white school all of my life, I chose to go to Spelman College for the social change,” says Aarica J. Blackett, a third-year economics major. “My senior year in high school, I was a debutante for the Links Incorporated. The more and more I bonded with these girls, the more I realized how much potential I had to become more than what I was.” More than 83% of full-time Spelman faculty hold doctoral degrees. In addition, the school offers rich cultural programs such as The Sumiko Takahara Japan Studies Program, in which students can study Japanese history and culture.

According to Thomas A. LaVeist, Ph.D., CEO of DayStar Research and the compiler of the list, the reason for so many changes has less to do with any one variable than with the combination of all of the new adjustments. Several historically black colleges and universities, such as Johnson C. Smith and Clark Atlanta universities, which had been on the list since its inception in 1999, didn’t make the cut.

CRUNCHING THE NUMBERS
To develop the 2006 be 50 Top Colleges for African Americans list, we surveyed more than 500 African American higher education professionals including presidents, chancellors, and directors of student affairs for their assessments of the social and academic environments for African American students at the nation’s colleges and universities.

A total of 1,423 colleges met our criteria based on their status as accredited four-year colleges with African American student enrollments of at least 3%. In addition, schools needed to have enrollment data submitted with the U.S. Department of Education. Each school was rated on a five-point scale from 1 (strongly recommend) to 5 (strongly don’t recommend).

The schools were sorted into seven categories: historically black colleges and universities, national universities, national liberal arts colleges, regional universities in the Northeast and Midwest, regional universities in the South and West, regional liberal arts colleges in the Northeast and Midwest, and regional liberal arts colleges in the South and West. The list was derived using the following variables:

Black student graduation rate
Average survey score for the school’s academic environment
Average survey score for the school’s social environment
Total black undergraduate enrollment
Black undergraduate students as a percentage of total undergraduates (credit for this variable was capped at 50% for hbcus)
Ranking on the 2004 BE Top Colleges list

The criteria was established by be and Thomas A. LaVeist, Ph.D., CEO of DayStar Research. The variables given the heaviest weighting were black graduation rate, followed by the average academic and social environment scores.

2006 Rank Colleges & Universities
City, State
Web Address Social
Score
Academic
Score
Total
Undergrad
Enrollment
Black
Undergrad. Enrollment
Black
Grad.
Rate
Type of School Tuition In
/Out of State*
1 Florida A&M University,
Tallahassee, FL
www.famu. edu 44.2 43.8 11,450 10,731 46% Public $2,958/ $14,949
2 Howard University,
Washington, DC
www. howard. edu 43.3 42.6 7,112 5,975 62 Private 12,295
3 North Carolina A&T State Univ., Greensboro, NC www.ncat.edu 42.0 41.6 9,121 8,409 43 Public 3,114/
12,556
4 Harvard University,
Cambridge, MA
www.harvard. edu 36.4 45.9 9,519 641 97 Private 32,097
5 Spelman College,
Atlanta, GA
www.spelman. edu 43.2 43.0 2,186 2,058 77 Private 15,945
6 Hampton University,
Hampton, VA
www. hamptonu. edu 42.8 41.5 5,315 4,980 54 Private 14,182
7 Stanford University,
Stanford, CA
www. stanford. edu 35.7 45.4 6,555 698 92 Private 31,200
8 Columbia University,
New York, NY
www. columbia. edu 36.2 42.1 7,233 511 90 Private 33,246
9 University of Pennsylvania,
Philadelphia, PA
www. upenn. edu 36.8 43.6 11,958 790 90 Private 32,364
10 Wesleyan University,
Middletown, CT
www. wesleyan. edu 38.6 47.1 2,777 190 90 Private 32,976
11 Dickinson College,
Carlisle, PA
www. dickinson. edu 38.3 43.3 2,321 88 100 Private 32,120
12 Wellesley College,
Wellesley, MA
www. wellesley. edu 38.0 42.0 2,289 135 95 Private 31,348
13 Amherst College,
Amherst, MA
www. amherst. edu 38.9 45.6 1,640 148 91 Private 32,395
14 Duke University,
Durham, NC
www. duke. edu 34.7 43.1 6,301 682 86 Private 31,420
15 Smith College,
Northampton, MA
www. smith. edu 43.3 43.3 2,692 153 95 Private 30,754
16 Barnard College,
New York, NY
www. barnard. edu 38.6 40.0 2,287 112 100 Private 30,676
17 Tennessee State University,
Nashville, TN
www. tnstate. edu 40.0 39.6 7,257 5,896 47 Public 4,414/
13,726
18 Georgia State University,
Atlanta, GA
www.gsu. edu 35.2 34.2 19,889 6,765 48 Public 4,464/
15,378
19 Brown University,
Providence, RI
www. brown. edu 36.7 43.5 6,014 383 93 Private 32,974
20 Yale University,
New Haven, CT
www.yale. edu 34.2 45.8 5,319 413 92 Private 31,460
21 Georgetown University,
Washington, DC
www.georgetown. edu 36.6 42.6 6,522 424 85 Private 32,024
22 Wake Forest University,
Winston-Salem, NC
www. wfu. edu 40.0 42.9 4,128 249 89 Private 30,210
23 Babson College,
Wellesley, MA
www. babson. edu 38.3 37.1 1,697 56 100 Private 30,496
24 Williams College,
Williamstown, MA
www.williams. edu 37.5 43.8 1,991 192 86 Private 31,548
25 Florida State University,
Tallahassee, FL
www.fsu. edu 35.2 35.5 30,373 3,607 68 Public 3,208/
16,340
26 Cornell University,
Ithaca, NY
www. cornell. edu 31.2 41.5 13,625 634 88 Private 31,467
27 Prairie View A&M University,
Prairie View, TX
www. pvamu. edu 38.8 38.8 6,324 5,795 46 Public 4,906/
13,186
28 Jackson State University,
Jackson, MS
www. jsums. edu 40.0 38.5 6,605 6,388 40 Public 3,964/
8,872
29 Oberlin College,
Oberlin, OH
www. oberlin. edu 41.1 47.8 2,837 175 78 Private 32,724
30 North Carolina Central
University, Durham, NC
www.nccu. edu 38.1 40.0 6,028 5,182 50 Public 3,778/
13,522
31 Mills College,
Oakland, CA
www. mills. edu 42.0 43.3 762 68 89 Private 29,990
32 University of North Carolina,
Chapel Hill, NC
www. unc. edu 37.6 40.0 16,525 1,794 70 Public 4,613/
18,411
33 Grinnell College,
Grinnell, IA
www. grinnell. edu 38.3 44.0 1,556 61 91 Private 27,060
34 Morgan State University,
Baltimore, MD
www. morgan. edu 40.4 38.8 6,243 5,782 39 Public 6,110/
13,520
35 University of Virginia,
Charlottesville, VA
www. virginia. edu 30.6 41.9 14,129 1,193 87 Public 7,370/
24,290
36 Mount Holyoke College,
South Hadley, MA
www. mtholyoke. edu 41.3 45.0 2,143 88 82 Private 32,598
37 Emory University,
Atlanta, GA
www. emory. edu 38.6 42.1 6,346 585 78 Private 30,794
38 Princeton University,
Princeton, NJ
www. princeton. edu 32.8 44.4 4,678 385 90 Private 31,450
39 Swarthmore College,
Swarthmore, PA
www. swarthmore. edu 38.6 48.6 1,474 96 82 Private 31,516
40 University of Michigan,
Ann Arbor, MI
www. umich.edu 37.1 42.5 24,828 1,875 69 Public 9,213/
27,601
41 Temple University,
Philadelphia, PA
www. temple. edu 37.3 37.3 23,429 4,666 53 Public 9,640/
17,236
42 Washington University,
St. Louis, MO
www.wustl. edu 33.7 36.3 7,350 691 90 Private 32,042
43 Davidson College,
Davidson, NC
www. davidson.edu 31.4 44.3 1,714 107 91 Private 28,667
44 Simmons College,
Boston, MA
www. simmons.edu 37.5 42.0 1,874 121 88 Private 24,880
45 Morehouse College,
Atlanta, GA
www. morehouse. edu 41.5 42.6 2,891 2,731 49 Private 16,016
46 Johns Hopkins University,
Baltimore, MD
www.jhu.edu 35.0 43.0 5,710 472 81 Private 31,620
47 Dartmouth College,
Hanover, NH
www. dartmouth. edu 30.4 40.4 4,079 274 91 Private 31,770
48 Vassar College,
Poughkeepsie, NY
www.vassar. edu 36.7 44.2 2,475 128 83 Private 33,800
49 Northwestern University,
Evanston, IL
www. northwestern. edu 30.5 38.6 9,115 498 90 Private 31,789
50 University of Maryland,
College Park, MD
www.umd. edu 36.7 37.5 25,140 3,047 57 Public 7,821/
20,145

39
FEATURE
Special Report
50 Top Colleges for African Americans
Guide to College Financing

Now that you know the 50 top Colleges for African Americans, how do you go about paying for such top-notch educations? This was certainly an issue for Michael Adams and his family. Before Michael enrolled at Princeton University, his parents sat down to figure out how they were going to afford the $31,000-a-year college education.

“We worked out a budget. My salary goes to paying his schooling and his sister’ school loans,” says Karen Adams, while her husband, Edward, covers the household bills. “We were sending Michael to private high school, so we couldn’t really save anything,” Karen explains.

To prevent students from graduating with thousands of dollars in debt, Princeton funds education primarily through grants and offers loans only to parents. Karen admits that she was initially surprised by the school’s “Graduate Debt Free” promise, “but the way they have it set up, and how they handle financial aid compared to other schools, is pretty good,” she says.

The Adamses took out $80,000 in loans to divide over four years. They make a monthly payment of $628 because Princeton doesn’t allow parents to defer payment.

While Michael was still in middle school, the Adamses paid off their home using money from Karen’s 403(b) in preparation for his private schooling. “I know you’re not supposed to do that, but I knew I would pay myself back,” Karen says.

Although using retirement money to pay

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