Nearly Half of Black Student Loan Borrowers Default, But 100 Percent of HBCUs Above Federal Default Standards

A new report offers sobering statistics on the financial outcomes for black college graduates and students, but starkly contrasts recently released data from the US Department of Education on cumulative default rates for historically black colleges and universities.
In an analysis compiled by the Center for American Progress, 78 percent of African American students entering college during the 2003-04 cohort financed their education with some form of federal loan, but made virtually no progress in paying down the loan in the years following graduation or leaving the school. With interest, the median average of debt owed by black students is 113 percent of the original borrowed amount, compared to 65 percent from white and 83 percent of Hispanic borrowers over the same period.
Black student borrowers also outpace the average default percentage of all loan holders by 20 percent.
While the individual numbers are staggering, the numbers on institutions which have enrolled former students who go onto default on loans continues to favor HBCUs. The Department of Education last month announced that 100 percent of black colleges were beneath the federal three-year standard of 30 percent of loan holders defaulting on repayment, and would not be blocked from enrolled students receiving financial aid. From the release:

HBCUs have deployed innovative approaches towards default management and reduction. Such strategies include implementation of a default management plan that engages stakeholders, identifies approaches to reducing default rates, and tracks measurable goals. These schools have increased borrower awareness of obligations through incorporating borrower topics at orientation sessions and providing enhanced entrance and exit counseling. Other best practices include borrower tracking, increased contact with delinquent borrowers, taking advantage of the cohort default rate challenge/adjustment/appeal processes, and partnering with other stakeholders to optimize default prevention, resolution, and reduction.

HBCUs have held a 100 percent compliance rate for the past two years, but experts say that the federal government must do more to create remedies for significant disparities which are clearly delineated by race.
“These results show that the U.S. Department of Education cannot ignore the interaction of race and student loans,” wrote Ben Miller, senior director of postsecondary education for the Center for American Progress.

16 thoughts on “Nearly Half of Black Student Loan Borrowers Default, But 100 Percent of HBCUs Above Federal Default Standards

  1. I have to disagree there is still talent on the HBCU playing field and there always will be some diamonds in the ruff that will get there shot at the NFL and ultimately make it to the HOF. The issue is the scouting of the talent. The NFL knows there is talent on the HBCU ranks that is why they show up at pro day, but getting a shot at the NFL is always been bias and changing that culture still remains. HBCU’s still do not get the respect in athletics historically and present day.

    1. Have HBCU’s been competitive enough in terms of winning national championships to warrant any respect-at the FCS or Division II level? In Track and Basketball yes, but not necessarily in football. Consider that no HBCU from the SWAC has ever won a FCS playoff game (0 wins, 19 losses over 3 decades). While FAMU won the initial I-AA championship in 1978, the conference has had only 3 or 4 wins total in the playoffs since then. The SIAC and CIAA has not been much better until Winston-Salem’s success over the past 2 years. There are great individual athletes at HBCU’s-especially in the skill positions, but the team success in defeating PWI’s is lacking in college football.

  2. I do agree with the comments “if you love your HBCU and cant send a $100 a year back than your belief is that HBCU are second class institutions”.

  3. Well written, provocative, and interesting piece HOWEVER I lament the gross generalization. NOT ALL PWIs are the same and NOT ALL HBCUs are the same. Some HBCUs are better than PWIs, some PWIs are better than HBCUs, some HBCUs are better than other HBCUs, some PWIs are better than other PWIs. And I didn’t appreciate that knock on HBCU culture. Marching bands are usually the main source of school spirit on every campus, have you not seen students and alumni “go crazy” as fight songs etc are being played on ESPN? Also, I witnessed only a handful of protests on civil injustice on my HBCU campus so I’m not sure where you’re getting that from. And why did you not mention that PWI culture is usually centered around wild partying, drinking, and hooking up b/c it’s uhh true, I’ve seen it … so that’s better?
    As a HBCU alumnus (Texas Southern University) and current grad student at a huge multi-million dollar endowed PWI, I really don’t see much difference in the education quality. I feel like both schools I’m affiliated with are exceptional and have the capacity to produce competent and savvy graduates. But it’s articles like this that scares countless smart black students away from even bothering to do research or visit the HBCUs. But despite that minor setback many HBCUs are here to stay, can compete, and will improve ….. I’ve seen extraordinary progress at several HBCUs (including my alma mater may I add) and I don’t foresee all HBCUs being irrelevant in your or my lifetime. Clearly you’re not well-abreast on HBCU history, culture, and progression so I implore you to please educate yourself and look beyond the surface. Look beyond basic data because it rarely tells the whole story. For example, there are several studies in favor of HBCUs that show graduates from HBCUs fare better than their PWI black counterparts culturally, mentally, financially (PWIs usually way overpriced), and academically.

    1. If you feel this way ” feel like both schools I’m affiliated with are exceptional and have the capacity to produce competent and savvy graduates”
      Why didn’t you go to an HBCU for grad school?

      1. There’s no HBCU in my city that carries the program I’m interested in first and foremost.

      2. Ok. I am having the same problem finding a PhD program that I want at an HBCU, so I feel you. I’m in no rush so I can wait.

    2. Show me a campus in the California State University system that is a PWI…..and I’ll offer you a great bargain on a big iron structure in Paris…..

      1. You’re correct. However, in “The Truth’s” defense; should HBCU’s really consider the California State University systems competitors as the population of African-Americans in most Cal-State locations is negligible compared to the Southeast, Midwest, or East Coast? Perhaps the Southeastern Conference universities or Ivy League schools are more direct competition to HBCU’s as only one or two HBCU’s are located west of the Mississippi River anyhow.

      2. I would like to think that the schools in the CSU system are noteworthy but so are several HBCUs. But noteworthy public HBCUs tend to be a better bargain because their cost of living plus tuition & fees are more affordable and won’t put you in too much debt compared to these Cali schools which is why so many Cali students leave the state (My whole dorm hallway was full of Cali kids, most of whom had their out of state fees waived). So what’s your point?!

    3. Actually, the author was correct to point out the overemphasis of the marching bands at HBCU games. Over 2+ decades as a student and administrator at 2 HBCU’s, I’ve seen between 30% to 50% of the crowd depart the game after the halftime show-something I’ve never seen once at a PWI that has appeared on ESPN. Getting exited about the school fight song is inconsequential, leaving football games (unless the score margin is lopsided) right after halftime is insulting to the student-athletes. The author was actually kinder about his band remarks than many others could/should be.

      1. I never seen that and I been around HBCU culture for over 2+ decades as well. For one, the bands plays in the remaining quarters and there’s something called the 5th Qtr where bands pull out their best stuff for battle after the game. So again, I have no idea what you’re talking about …. band fans stay in most instances.
        The main overemphasis I hate at HBCUs is that on “greek-life”. For example, I went to our rival game last weekend and I seen “greeks” look as if they org threw up on them. Not only that but I seen several with the nerve to bring pink&greek/crimson&cream pom poms as if they were at yet another ridiculous step show (they looked crazy in the head). The obsession I see about being “greek” is nauseating and was definitely an insult to the student-athletes last week. They were strolling, doing their calls (vulgar calls may I add), they were just a major distraction from the game at hand. This was a time for us to show school spirit by wearing school colors and supporting our team etc, you’ll never see this at a Texas A&M game etc.

      2. I too also see the overemphasis on Greek life that you mention and it has cost many students outstanding scholarships/internship opportunities-especially in the sophomore year.
        The issue regarding crowds leaving games early has been a major topic of conversation among football players for decades-even impacting recruiting visits of prospective student athletesathletes at times. The 5th Quarter exhibition you speak of usually requires both competing schools to bring their bands, which only occurs for 2 of 5 home games at my current school-Lincoln University PA. With budgets for travel tightening up at many of our schools, many regular season games are played with only the home team’s band present.

      3. The greek system terrorizing goes deeper than that. I remember this one guy who was kicked off line a week or so before the last day (for the 2nd year) that later committed suicide. But of course only a few of us who knew him, knew what wassup and why the frat did it (weak sick bullies known for getting off by playing mind games on weak men) and since many of the administrators are greek they swept it under the rug and it never made local/national news. Unfortunately he’s one of countless others who’ve done the same. I hate greek life and which is why I’m sorta at odds with my alma mater president. Alot of people build their self-worth on being greek or making the line, it’s terrible, worthless distraction, unhealthy …. it needs to go. I was told it actually got worse since I left thanks to movies and celebs like Stomp The Yard, Ricky Smiley, Sheryl Underwood etc …. so many people will sell they soul, do anything for them lil funky 3 letters.
        BTW, 5th quarter happens without an opposing band as well. I’ve seen it so many times, so once again band heads are less the problem. A bigger problem is the talent pool of HBCU players, we are extremely lucky to get talented players when it use to be the norm. Some games are so hard to watch with the high number of dropped passes, missed tackles, and dumb penalities.

  4. It is actually sad. We (black folks) are losing our identity. There was once a time when we had our own identity and were a proud people but now we are being lumped together with Hispanics as “People of Color”. After a while HBCUs will be non-existent and no one seems to care. To at once be the largest minority we should have way more wealth and influence in this country. We get all excited about small wins like if one person makes it to the white house. But the other 2 million of us are collected welfare and going to jail. People better wake up and take back the respect we once had as a people. Black folks need to realize, just because a white person acknowledges you doesn’t make you one of them.

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