HBCUs Experience Near Record Surge in Enrollment

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While some traditional universities are experiencing declines in students, many historical Black colleges and universities are having an enrollment boom.

“Our enrollment continues to rise and increase year over year,” Bowie State University President Aminta Breaux said.

Bowie State expects an 8% increase in overall enrollment this fall.

“We're seeing more students from the West Coast, the Midwest, from the southern states,” Breaux said.

Howard University had a more than 15% enrollment increase last year during the pandemic. The numbers are expected to be even higher this fall.

“This has the potential to be our largest freshman class ever … certainly in the last 30 years,” Howard Provost and Chief Academic Officer Anthony Wutoh said.

“I don't think there's just one spark,” Breaux said. “I do think tt’s a culmination.”

Calls for racial justice, the attack on the U.S. Capitol and the overall political climate are a few of the factors influencing students, based on the majors they're choosing.

“We are attracting students who have a significant interest in social justice and an interest in addressing what they see as the ills of society,” Wutoh said.

For Howard, there's been strategic outreach greatly advanced by famous alum like Vice President Kamala Harris and late actor Chadwick Boseman.

Within the past year, HBCUs have seen significant philanthropic contributions. MacKenzie Scott donated billions to Black schools. Bowie State got $25 million after historical underfunding by the state of Maryland.

“Across the country, those who never heard about HBCUs and didn't understand the value that we bring to our communities now learning about HBCUs,” Breaux said.

It's been said HBCUs offer an education that's not in the books. Those are lessons more students are anxious to learn.

There are so many students coming back for in-person learning at Howard there's a housing shortage the university is contending with. The plan is to eventually build more dorms.  

Bowie State's students move in Saturday.

Editor's Note: Bowie State University clarified that while it received an 8% increase in admitted students, the university will have to wait until mid-September for a final count of how many new students will actually attend the school.

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