HBCUs may be hurt by student loan relief plan

HBCUs have supported the higher educational goals of African-American and other students for nearly 150 years. | File photo

Clark Atlanta University President Ronald Johnson and other leaders of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) spoke out last month regarding the U.S. Department of Education's defense to its student loan repayment proposal. 

The HBCUs requested an additional 60 days to review the proposal and discuss its impact on the schools.

The proposed regulation was spurred by the for-profit Corinthian Colleges' collapse last year. When Corinthian closed and left approximately 72,000 students unable to complete their educations while still owing on their federal student loans, the Department of Education received more than 26,600 claims under the existing loan-forgiveness rule. Corinthian students made up approximately 87 percent of those claims. The proposed change is intended to ease the process for filing grievances and debt relief.

HBCU leaders pointed out that the proposed regulations could harm colleges and universities that lack the financial security of many non-HBCUs. A top-rated HBCU, such as Morehouse College, may be supported by a $130 million endowment, while Harvard University's endowment is more than $36 billion. A series of frivolous lawsuits could affect an HBCU's financial viability.

HBCUs have supported the higher educational goals of African-American and other students for nearly 150 years. Eighteen percent of African-American college students graduate from HBCUs and one quarter of those graduate with STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) degrees.

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