HBCUs May Be Particularly Devastated By The Coronavirus Pandemic
The coronavirus could have a huge impact on the historic institutions.
March 24, 2020 at 6:41 pm
While college students across the nation are having to pack up their dorms for the semester, some people are wondering how this will affect HBCUs.
Many HBCUs rely on students' tuition to offset their expenses, compared to institutions that receive large donations and subsequently have expansive endowments to rely on in times of economic pitfall. While students are sent home indefinitely, it's unclear how the historical colleges and universities will fare as many are dealing with prior financial hardships.
Marybeth Gasman, a professor at Rutgers University, told BlackAmericaWeb.com that some colleges may already begin to see an impact from the coronavirus. As students are sent home to continue their degrees online, Gasman believes this could be an issue for students from low-income homes without technology or the necessary bandwidth.
Roughly 75% of college students attending HBCUs are eligible for Pell Grants and come from low-income and middle-class homes.
Paul Quinn College, however, has supplied students with laptops to borrow for the semester, according to NBC News. Paul Quinn is also providing carryout meals for students.
Colleges could also see a strain on their IT departments as the student body switches over to online courses.
As staff is left to strategize while their students are away, disruptions to their finances could occur due to closed dorms, food halls and bookstores and employee salaries. For many HBCUs, this adds to the stack of other financial burdens the schools face due to small endowments and alumni giving. In 2019, the top 100 HBCUs garnered $43 million in donations compared to the top seven predominately white institutions that received $2.94 billion.
A lack of freedom in funds could be the cause for schools to lose their accreditation and shut down. Bennett College, which struggled to maintain their accreditation in 2019, could possibly be forced into another spiral to gain funding.
Howard University professor Ivory Toldson said other HBCUs with "preexisting conditions," financial hardship, are likely to shut down.
"HBCUs that are under-enrolled or financially impaired, with infrastructural issues, such as unfilled leadership positions, accreditation issues and subpar facilities, could have serious problems rebounding," Toldson told BlackAmericaWeb.com.
Not having an excess in funds to keep these historical schools afloat, Toldson and Gasman said they believe the federal government could help keep their doors open.
Toldson thinks the government should issue financial support to students who had to move off campus unexpectedly. The Howard professor said the historic colleges should also receive emergency relief for unexpected revenue loss like campus closures and commencement cancellations.
Gasman said the government should provide HBCUs with a stimulus package. According to BlackAmericaWeb.com, Rep. Alma Adams, D-N.C., is working on gathering support to create an initiative that would bring in funds for the institutions, according to Inside Higher Ed.
The United Negro College Fund and Thurgood Marshall College Fund are lobbying for HBCUs to receive $1.5 billion as part of a stimulus package.