As African Americans are suffering disproportionately from the effects of coronavirus, so are Historically Black Colleges and Universities who are grappling with grave financial pressures.
Many HBCUs depend on room and board from their student bodies to keep them financially solvent, CNN reports. But beginning in March, to prevent the spread of the virus, they sent students home and switched to online learning, cutting off their main source of income.
Further, most do not have the large endowments of predominantly white institutions.
The schools, many of which have been financially strapped before the pandemic hit, did not have the technological infrastructure in place to move directly to online learning and making the change was costly.
“We had to rush to try to provide and undergird ourselves with technology [and] many of the infrastructures are not up to par,” Quinton Ross, president of Alabama State University told CNN. For his school the price ran “into the millions.”
Morehouse College in Atlanta is looking at a 25 percent decrease in enrollment because of the pandemic, which in turn will lead to job loss, furloughs and budget cuts, its president David Thomas said in a statement.
Howard University in Washington, is now adjusting for a $39 million revenue shortfall, its president Wayne Frederick wrote in a letter to the campus , even though it reported a $647 million endowment in 2017. At least $6 million will be refunded to students, he said.
The U.S. Department of Education earmarked $1.4 billion in relief aid to help HBCUs, but it’s only the beginning of what the schools will need, Virginia State University President Makola Abdullah told CNN.
“We are very concerned that without the adequate federal and state support, many institutions that serve the underserved might not be around,” he said.