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HBCUs give students higher debt

CYRIL JOSH BARKER Amsterdam News Staff | 9/21/2012, 3:32 p.m.
Historically Black Colleges and Universities

A list in a recent issue of US News & World Report provides a look into colleges that give students the most amount of debt upon graduation. Several historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) made the list, notably Clark Atlanta University.

The magazine's list indicated that students who attend the private university, which neighbors Morehouse and Spelman colleges in Atlanta, graduate with an average of $47,066 in debt. Both the amount of debt for graduating students in the class of 2011 and the percentage of students who borrowed were figured.

Other HBCUs that made the list were Johnson C. Smith University and Bennett College in North Carolina along with Delaware State University. All of the HBCUs on the list had a high number of students who borrowed, ranging from 90 to 100 percent.

Topping the list was a non-HBCU, La Sierra University in California, which left graduates with a whopping debt of $54,885.

This summer the U.S. Department of Education released a new interactive loan counseling tool to provide students with financial management basics, like information about their current loan debt and estimates for student loan debt levels after graduation. Students can access the new resource, known as the Financial Awareness Counseling Tool, on StudentLoans.gov.

"Managing student loan debt can be a difficult and confusing process for many borrowers. That's why the Obama Administration has been working to unravel the mystery of college financing and arm students and parents with the information they need to make smart educational choices," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

Students and alumni of Howard University can breathe a little easier. The private HBCU in Washington, D.C., made the list of schools with the least amount of debt, averaging $15,080.

To help with financial issues that many HBCUs are facing, the U.S. Department of Education awarded nearly $228 million to 97 HBCUs this week.

The five-year grants will include activities such as curriculum reform; counseling and student service programs; establishing teacher education programs designed to qualify students to teach; acquiring real estate in connection with construction, renovations, or additions that may improve campus facilities; and funding faculty and staff development.

In addition, funds may be used for the purchase, rental, or lease of scientific or laboratory equipment and the development of academic instruction in disciplines in which African-Americans are underrepresented.

"HBCUs have made enduring, even staggering contributions to American life despite the steep financial challenges many have faced," Duncan said. "The grants will help these important institutions continue to provide their students with the quality education they need to compete in the global economy."

Schools in 19 states will get the funding including Alabama State University, which will receive $3.2 million, Lincoln University of Pennsylvania, which will receive $2 million, and Texas Southern University, which will receive $4.4 million.