Historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) were established during the segregation period of U.S. history in response to the demand for education by Blacks who did not have access to White educational institutions. As a group, Blacks share a common historical experience of segregation that was characterized by relatively limited educational resources to meet the demand of the black population for higher education. Currently there are 103 HBCUs (53 private and 50 public institutions), representing approximately 3% of the total U.S. institutions of higher education and about 2% of the total U.S. college enrollment (National Center for Education Statistics, 1996). Collectively, these institutions have also been undergoing, over the past three decades, a declining share of black high graduates' enrollment in higher educational institutions. Despite federal desegregation policies, such a relative decline has not been compensated by a corresponding increase in HBCUs' relative share of the total population of non-Black high school graduates' enrollment in higher education.
Although most HBCUs experienced enrollment growth during the periods of educational expansion in the U.S., overall their share of national enrollment has declined because of two factors: the increase in community colleges and the Adams court decisions desegregating higher education in the south (Hauptman & Smith, 1994). Table 1 shows that the total enrollment in HBCUs expanded by about 18.69% from 222,613 students in 1976 to 273,472 in 1998. Despite the modest increase in the number of non-Black students attending HBCUs, the level of diversity in terms of race and ethnicity has remained almost unchanged. Hence, Black students have consistently represented about 81% of the total annual enrollment at HBCUs during that period.
Table 2 indicates that the total U.S. enrollment of Blacks 14 to 34 years of age in postsecondary educational institutional institutions increased significantly by 66% from 996,000 in 1980 to 1,640,000 in 1998. Consequently, the total Black enrollment in all colleges and universities rose from 9.78% in 1980 to 12.75% in 1998. However, as a group, HBCUs' relative share of the total Black enrollment in higher educational institutions declined from 18.18% in 1980 to 13.70% in 1998. In contrast, Black students' enrollment in other institutions of higher education, as a percentage of the total Black enrollment in the U.S., rose from 80.82% in 1980 to 86.3% in 1998. While Black students' enrollment in other colleges and universities rose by 76% from 805,011 in 1980 to 1,415,255 students in 1998, the enrollment of non-Black students in HBCUs rose only by 16.82% (from 42,568 to 49,727) during the same period.
Several factors may have contributed to the decline of HBCUs' relative share of total Black student enrollment in postsecondary educational institutions, and there is no empirical evidence about their effects in the literature. The survival and growth of many HBCUs depend on their ability to maintain or improve their relative share of Black students, who traditionally represented their major source of enrollment. The purpose of this paper is to provide an empirical analysis of the determinants of Black student enrollment in HBCUs. Such information may be useful for policy decisions. An overview of the factors influencing Black enrollment in higher education and a description of the methodological framework as well as the data used in this study are provided in the next section.
Methodology and Data Collection
The Determinants of Enrollment Demand
The literature provides a large body of information on the various factors that have been influencing the demand for higher education by Black high school graduates in the U. S. Demographic trends affect the demand for higher education as well as the supply of high school graduates who attend the various postsecondary institutions. The number of high school graduates who are willing and financially capable of pursuing college education is perhaps viewed as the most obvious determinant of enrollment demand for higher education. The post-World War II period has been characterized by an unprecedented increase in the demand for higher education due to the baby boom the U.S. experienced between 1946 and 1964. Enrollment rose sharply during the 1960-1975 period and then remained relatively constant in the late 1970s. Unlike their parents, baby boomers chose either to have fewer children or to postpone child bearing. Consequently, the size of the 18-year-old population, which ceased to grow rapidly in the mid-1970s, began to decline sharply after 1982, a trend that was projected to continue until the late 1990s (Solmon & Wingard, 1989). Although the post-baby boom period was characterized by an overall decline of the U.S. birth rate, many minority groups, Hispanics in particular, experienced both birth rate and immigration increases. As a result, the potential number of minority students attending higher educational institutions is expected to rise for these groups.
The decision to attend college is influenced by the cultural and social capital on which individuals and families rely in order to meet a certain set of established values in society. Coleman (1988) described social capital as the networks that provide information, social norms, and achievement support. Bourdieu and Passeron (1977) described cultural capital as the system of factors individuals derived from their parents that defines their class status. Social and cultural capital are resources people may invest in order to enhance profitability (Bourdieu & Passeron, 1977), increase productivity (Coleman, 1988), and facilitate upward mobility (DiMaggio & Mohr, 1985). Although social and cultural capital affect high school graduates' demand for college education, the process of deciding to invest in a 4-year college varies among Blacks, Hispanics, and Whites (Jackson, 1990; Perna, 2000; St. John, 1991).
It is well documented that economic and financial factors have a significant impact on high school graduates' demand for college education in the U.S. (Coleman, 1990, 1988; DiMaggio & Mohr, 1985; Hearn, 1991; Hossler, Braxton, & Coopersmith, 1989; Litten, Sullivan, & Brodigan, 1983). The demand for college education is influenced by the expected stream of benefits, including the additional lifetime income resulting from higher education and the additional social and intellectual amenities an individual might expect to gain from attending college. Schultz (1961) developed the investment approach to the theory of demand for education, and Becker (1964) suggests that an individual will purchase a college education if the present value of the expected stream of benefits gained from the education exceeds the present costs of the education. Earning a degree from college has been viewed as a symbol of achievement in American society because it provides the recipients with employment opportunities associated with higher incomes and enhances the chance of assuming important leadership positions. Such a view is, perhaps, widely shared among members of the different minority ethnic and racial groups who had limited educational and employment opportunities in the past. On average, college graduates earn more money and experience less unemployment than high school graduates do in the labor force. Several studies provided evidence that earning differentials and lower probabilities of unemployment exert an important influence on college enrollment (Bishop, 1977; Campbell & Siegel, 1971; Fiorito & Dauffenbach, 1982; Freeman, 1986; Leslie & Brinkman, 1988; Willis & Rosen, 1979). A study by James et al. (1988) also found that higher financial returns are associated with attendance at selective institutions.
Family income can be viewed as part of a student's investment capital available for education. Thus, as evidenced in many studies (Bishop, 1977; Corman, 1983; Glaper & Dunn, 1969; Schwartz, 1986; Spies, 1978), there is a positive association between income and college enrollment. Other studies showed that the average expenditure on college rises with family income (Astin, 1985; Hearn, 1988). Moreover, it is well documented that White students gain higher returns on their investment in higher education than Black students do; however, Blacks who graduate from higher educational institutions do better than those who do not (Becker, 1975; Cohen, 1979; Freeman, 1976; Schultz, 1961; Thurow, 1972).
As one of the major factors of demand for higher education, the cost of college education has experienced a remarkable increase over the past three decades. The average cost of tuition, fees, and room and board paid by a full-time undergraduate rose from $2,275 in 1976-1977 to $9,536 in 1996-1997 for all types of institutions. However, the level of increase varies quite significantly among the different types of educational institutions. Four-year institutions experienced a much greater cost increase than 2-year institutions did. Thus, the average level of these costs rose from $2,577 to $11,227 for all 4-year institutions, and from $1,598 to $5,075 for all 2-year institutions (U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics [NCES], 1998). Similarly, private institutions experienced a much higher cost increase than public institutions did. Hence, on the average, these costs rose from $1,935 to $7,334 for all 4-year public institutions, and from $1,491 to $4,404 for all 2-year public institutions. In contrast, they increased from $3,977 to $19,143 for all 4-year private institutions, and from $2,971 to $12,481 for all 2-year private institutions (NCES, 1998).
According to Becker (1964) and Nerlove (1972), a major reason for the high cost of higher education is imperfection in the capital market arising from the ignorance, risk, and lack of collateral that are inherent to a capital market. However, this problem relates more to low-income families who have limited access to capital than to high-income families. Differences in tuition and other costs among the various types of institutions will undoubtedly affect individual students' choice of college for education. Cost-sensitive Black students may shift their enrollment demand to low-cost competing institutions, such as 2-year community junior colleges or vocational and technical institutions that are conveniently located near their residences.
Changes in tuition rates and financial aid affect students from various socioeconomic groups differently. Many studies reviewed by Heller (1997) documented that lower-income students are more sensitive to changes in tuition and aid than are students from middle- and upper-income families. Moreover, Heller (1997) also found that Black students are more sensitive to changes in tuition and financial aid than other groups are; consequently, their enrollment demand is relatively higher for 2-year institutions than for 4-year institutions. It should be pointed out that the sensitivity of minority students to changes in tuition and financial aid is related more to their financial status than to their cultural differences with the dominant group in the U.S.
The gap in college participation rates between low-income and high-income students, on the one hand, and between minorities and Whites, on the other, has widened significantly over the past 20 years, thus contributing to a new inequality in college access. Upon reviewing trends related to financial access, St. John (2002) developed a conceptual model for analyzing the enrollment behavior of college-qualified students. His …