“I am stressed about how to attend Clark next year. [My aunt] said she cannot co-sign another loan for me,” says Simpson, who, with a 3.35 GPA, is the first person in her household to attend college. “I don’t understand why students with high GPAs like mine cannot get scholarships from the school. I’ve gone to the financial aid office numerous times and they always give me the same answer, ‘Well your family is making good income so we can’t give you a scholarship.’ Right now I am applying for scholarships and hoping for a miracle to occur.”
“Tuition at black colleges are 50% lower than at white institutions, however, the amount of institutional aid that they can contribute is also lower,” says Mary Beth Gasman, an expert in HBCU history and an associate professor of higher education at the University of Pennsylvania.
Governors will be receiving $8.8 billion in stimulus money to use in any way they see fit, and the U.S. secretary of education has $5 billion in discretionary funds. Michael Lomax, president of the United Negro College Fund, says it is important that schools and organizations petition to get this money invested in HBCUs. But while these funds could be available for any school, Lomax says that governors are predisposed to helping public institutions not private institutions.
Corporate donations are also a vital tuition resource, but they are dwindling because of the economy. ExxonMobil has agreed to immediately donate $500,000 to the UNCF’s Campaign for Emergency Student Aid, and committed to matching up to $500,000 of funds raised by the UNCF. Things are looking up at Fisk as well. The school entered into a partnership with Volkswagen that will result in $120,000 in scholarships each year for the next five years.
In addition to institutional and corporate grants, loans are a significant part of the financial aid package. Obama wants to transfer the management of student loans to the federal government, but some in the private sector disagree. In HBCU Part III, BlackEnterprise.com takes a look at the fall-out when the Federal Parent Plus Loan failed one low-income student and her family.
Previously in the series: HBCU Financial Forecast: Part I