America’s historically black colleges were founded as a way to help provide educational opportunities to black students at a time when they were largely prevented from accessing traditional colleges. The historically black schools that still exist continue to serve the disadvantaged, but it’s not just black students anymore.

According to an article by Samieh Shalash in the Daily Press:

A 2009 report by the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, which represents almost half of the nation’s 105 historically black colleges, says that the proportion of Hispanic, Asian, and multi-ethnic students enrolled in its member institutions jumped from 6 percent to 8 percent of the student population from 1986 to 2006.

This isn’t a colossal increase, but it’s a significant one. The reason? Historically black colleges are cheap. As the article explains:

White and other non-black students have discovered they can get a good education at historically black colleges for a lot less than at some predominately white schools, Williams said. And many HBCUs actively recruit whites in order to receive federal funding, she added.

This situation mirrors what happened at many American women’s college in the last 50 years; as women achieved the ability to study at traditional colleges, their old institutions had to find new populations to serve and new reasons to exist.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer