Presidents and chancellors of most of North Carolina’s 11 historically black colleges and universities said in a meeting in Washington with Sen. Kay Hagan Tuesday morning that their schools are in danger of losing students because so many of the young people have run out of money.
Chancellor Donald Reaves of Winston-Salem State University told Hagan that the school lost about a 750 students this year. Of those more than 600 were academically eligible. Two hundred of those who left were seniors. But they were short of funds — by an average of $2,700, Reaves said.
These students exhausted their Pell grants, the main federal scholarship for low-income students, and student loans, Reaves said. “These students simply ran out of options.”
Reaves and fellow leaders of the HBCUs were meeting with Hagan and later with Sen. Richard Burr at the U.S. Capitol to talk about the challenges their institutions face.
Chancellor Willie J. Gilchrist of Elizabeth City State University said all of the schools have students who can’t afford to stay in school. When Hagan asked what she could do at the federal level to help, he said that federal work-study dollars were important to give students jobs. Often these jobs can be related to what students are studying, and that helps keep them on campus, he said. Gilchrist added that many students work an extra job off-campus as well.
Hagan later said the problem of college affordability continues to worsen after the long economic downturn. She noted that unemployment is still 18 percent in parts of northeastern North Carolina.
“For some of our low-income families, there are so many hurdles,” she said. “We’ve got to encourage our students to get an education.”