Posted on January 29, 2018

6-Year Graduation Rates at Many HBCUs Lower than 20 Percent

Atlanta Journal-Constitution, January 29, 2018

In analyzing federal data for an in-depth examination of the nation’s historically black colleges and universities, the AJC found that the six-year graduation rates at 20 schools were 20 percent or lower in 2015.


A handful of HBCUs are graduating more than 50 percent of new freshmen within six years. Spelman College in Atlanta, for example, led all HBCUs, with a rate of 76 percent. Others, however, are struggling.  Here’s a sampling:

School and 6-year graduation rate 2010 2015
Arkansas Baptist College 2% 5%
Virginia University of Lynchburg 5% 5%
Harris-Stowe State University 13% 7%
Concordia College Alabama 4% 10%
Southwestern Christian College 10% 10%
Texas College 6% 13%
Paul Quinn College 9% 13%
Le Moyne-Owen College 17% 13%
Southern University New Orleans 4% 14%
Other selected colleges, for comparison 2010 2015
University of Georgia 80% 85%
Georgia State University 48% 58%
Spelman College 70% 76%
Morehouse College 57% 51%
Clark Atlanta University 43% 38%
U.S. average, all colleges 48% 59%

“Yes, there are some HBCUs that have low graduation rates,” said Marybeth Gasman, an education professor at the University of Pennsylvania who directs the Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions, in an email to the AJC. {snip}


“Graduation rates directly correlate with the income of the student body. More low income students — typically, lower graduation rates. Why? Because low-income students don’t have access to the same college prep opportunities and because they don’t have the financial safety nets of middle and upper income students. Please note that institutions that have very few Pell Grant-eligible students typically have very, very high graduation rates.”