How will the American Talent Initiative impact enrollments at Historically Black Colleges and Universities?

How will the American Talent Initiative impact enrollments at Historically Black Colleges and Universities?

Only one institution, Spelman College (a women’s only college) is a founding member of the American Talent Initiative. Howard University, Tuskegee University, Hampton University, Morehouse College (a men’s only college), North Carolina A&T State University, Florida A&M University, Jackson State University, Morgan State University and the many other Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are not included in the American Talent Initiative.

Why might you ask? Only universities with the highest graduation rates are those that are included in the American Talent Initiative. It is not clear what the recruiting goals will mean in detail for the 30 schools that are founding members of the American Talent Initiative.

HBCUs have a diversity of students from a variety of economic and demographic backgrounds. Some of their lower-income students depend heavily on scholarships, grants and student loans. This has an impact on these institutions’ graduation rates. Lower-income college students often have to pause their education or take fewer classes in order to work and earn the money to cover their college tuition and expenses. Unfortunately, some students at private HBCUs have to transfer to less expensive public universities in order to complete their degrees. Some may have to halt their college degree programs completely.

Many of the wealthy private elite predominantly white universities (PWUs) and public predominantly white flagship institutions have money to cover much of the cost of earning a college degree for lower-income students. Academically qualified students who often want to attend private HBCUs have no other financial option but, to attend wealthy private elite PWUs and public predominantly white flagship institutions as well as non-flagship public PWUs.

Public HBCUs tend to have larger enrollments, compared to the private HBCUs, because of their lower tuition prices (when paying in-state tuition). Institutions such as: North Carolina A&T State University, the nation’s largest HBCU, Florida A&M University, Jackson State University and Morgan State University are examples of public HBCUs that tend to competitively attract academically qualified lower-income students, because of their lower in-state tuition. At the same time these institutions are still limited to the numbers of scholarships they have available each year for students when compared to the wealthy private elite PWUs, public predominantly white flagship institutions and non-flagship public PWUs.

The Education Trust updates this database every spring. College Results now includes graduation rate and other critical student data for the 2013-14 academic year.

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4-Year, 5-Year, and 6-Year Graduation Rates: The graduation-rate data presented in CRO represents the proportion of first-time, full-time, bachelor’s or equivalent degree-seeking students who graduate within 4 years, 5 years, and 6 years. Note that these rates are cumulative. For example, the five-year graduation rate shows the percentage of students from the freshman cohort who graduated in 5 years or less, not the percentage who took exactly 5 years to graduate. Institutions’ 6-Year Graduation Rate is typically the default time period for comparison purposes; 4-year and 5-year graduation rates, however, are also available.

Percent Underrepresented Minority (URM): The percent of FTE undergraduates who are Black, Latino, or Native American. As mentioned in the New Race/Ethnicity Categories section, although IPEDS adopted new reporting categories (disaggregating data for Asians and Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, and providing data for students of Two or More Races) starting with the 2012-13 collection year, the 2014 graduation rates in this dataset are based on the 2008 freshman cohort. Since institutional reporting was not yet mandatory at that previous point in time, institutional reports of graduation rates for Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander and Two or More Races are unreliable. For this reason, the calculations for percent URM and non-URM do not yet include these new categories. (IPEDS)

Reported in The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education 2014 – Research has found 15 high-ranking colleges and universities that have Black student graduation rates that have averaged over 90 percent over the past four years. The highest rate is at Harvard University, where 97 percent of entering Black students earn their degree within six years at Harvard. At Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, the Black student graduate rate is 95 percent. Blacks at Yale University graduate at a rate of 94 percent and Princeton University, Colby College, and the University of Pennsylvania have Black student graduation rates of 93 percent.


This is how “Historically Black Colleges and Universities” (HBCUs) became the “branding”


American Talent Initiative

Coalition of colleges and universities seeks to attract, enroll, and graduate high-achieving, lower-income students.

The American Talent Initiative was founded with a national goal of educating 50,000 additional high-achieving, lower-income students at the 270 colleges and universities with the highest graduation rates by 2025. In other words, ATI’s goal is to increase the total number of lower-income students attending these top-performing colleges to about 480,000 by 2025 and beyond 2025, to sustain that increase.

The American Talent Initiative brings together public and private institutions united in a common goal to enhance their own efforts to recruit and support lower-income students, learn from each institution, and contribute to research that will help other colleges and universities to expand opportunity.

The 30 founding members of the American Talent Initiative represent a diverse set of public and private colleges and universities with high graduation rates. Funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies and coordinated by the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program and Ithaka S+R, the American Talent Initiative aims to expand its membership in the coming months.

In its first phase, 30 leading Ivy League, state flagship, private universities and liberal arts colleges—all graduating at least 70 percent of their students within six years—have joined together to address this challenge, with a goal of adding as many as possible of these 270 colleges and universities to ATI in the next few years.
Ithaka S+R is a not-for-profit service that helps the academic community navigate economic and technological change. Our aim is to broaden access to higher education by reducing costs while also improving student outcomes. Ithaka S+R is part of ITHAKA.

The Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program aims to advance higher education practices, policies, and leadership that significantly improve outcomes in student learning, transfer and completion, equity, and labor market success after graduation.


ATI is guided by a Steering Committee:
Ana Mari Cauce, President, University of Washington

Michael V. Drake, President, The Ohio State University

Christopher Eisgruber, President, Princeton University

Martin Kurzweil, Director, Educational Transformation Program, Ithaka S+R

Daniel R. Porterfield, President, Franklin & Marshall College

Carol Quillen, President, Davidson College

Joshua Wyner, Vice President and Executive Director, College Excellence Program, The Aspen Institute


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