September 28, 2023

HBCUs: The Best Financial Payoff

By: Chelsea Davis-Bibb, Ed.D.

Once a student graduates from high school, many of them will make one of the biggest decisions of their life and attend college. Going to college is a big investment, and once a student graduates, they will need a job to pay off student loans if they have them and to survive in life. When graduation arrives and students enter the workforce, how much money will they receive? That amount may depend on the career field of their choice, or they could receive a better financial payoff based on the college they attended.

Taylor Nichols, a Data Reporter for OnlineU, conducted a research study to see which Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) offer the best salary potential for African American students in their state. According to OnlineU’s website, their mission since 2004 has been helping “aspiring students accomplish their education and career goals by finding the online degree with the best value.” Nichols stated, “We use data to empower students when they’re making decisions about their colleges and higher education.”

Nicole Hopler, Media Relations Manager for OnlineU mentioned, “We are focused on sharing a lot of outcomes after graduation and getting more information out there about higher education and what students can expect after graduation in terms of earnings and outcomes.”

There are many great benefits as to why a student should attend an HBCU, and Nichols was thrilled to do the study, and wanted to provide students with information so they can make an informed decision. “I was excited to do this study because there’s a lot of benefits to attending an HBCU, especially for Black students. It was an exciting opportunity to provide this type of data and this type of analysis for students who are thinking about where they want to go and might not be thinking about salary.”

In the research study, Xavier University of Louisiana came in with the “top HBCU for salary,” with a median salary of $52,582 when the state salary threshold is $36,962. That is a financial payoff of $15,619. Nichols was not surprised by this but was interested in digging more into the campus. “I found all this other information about how they are particularly well-known for boosting low-income students into higher income brackets. They rank well for economic mobility.” Following Xavier University of Louisiana was Spelman College, Hampton University, Morehouse College, and Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University just to name a few.

Regarding Texas, Prairie View A&M University (PV) ranked number one for the highest median salary of $37, 694.06, with the state salary threshold being $44,319. Unfortunately, that is a -6,624.94 difference. Behind PV was Texas Southern University, Hutson-Tillotson University, Paul Quinn College, Wiley College, Jarvis Christian College, and Texas College. A possible reason for PV being ranked so high “is related to their stem percentage. I think 30% of their students are stem majors, which was a theme we saw with other schools in our study, Nichols expressed.” Additionally, Prairie View A&M “ranks 13th for median income among all four-year HBCUs and is one of the largest HBCUs by enrollment in the country.”

One interesting aspect from the research study is that 81% of students who graduated from a school in Texas, remained in Texas. It was mentioned by Hopler that this could be because a lot of students who attend Texas schools are originally from the state, so they stay in Texas after graduation. Nichols discussed how she also wouldn’t also be surprised “if strong and local industry played a role in students wanting to stay in Texas after graduation.”

Whatever school students decide to attend, they must make the best decision for them. However, it is good to be well informed and have a full understanding of different outcomes, and benefits to attending their school of choice. It is research studies like the one Nichols conducted that not only informs them but may expose them to other options they may not have considered.

For Ineceia Carter, who currently attends an HBCU had her own personal reasons for why she wanted to attend. Carter stated, “I attended an HBCU because I wanted to surround myself with individuals willing and eager to invest in my undergraduate career, where I’m not fighting to let my voice be heard or feel uncomfortable in my environment.” She also mentioned how HBCU’s allow students to be “vulnerable” and express their culture.

Carter is a graduating senior from Prairie View A&M University, who will walk across the stage in a couple of weeks, and she couldn’t be happier. “I’ve grown throughout my life, and I wouldn’t have done so without my beloved HBCU guiding me along the way.” Carter is majoring in biology with two minors, one in chemistry and the other in human development and the family.

This was a very exciting research study for Hopler and Nichols and how they had the opportunity to highlight HBCUs. Nichols concluded stating, “I was really happy that we got to highlight strong HBCU’s especially because of all the benefits they give to their students and the unique aspects about them and the communities they serve.”

For more information regarding the research study, you can visit



Latest Articles


Search our archive of past issues Receive our Latest Updates
* indicates required
Scroll to Top