Higher Education Finance

HBCU Alumni Must Change the National Discourse

HBCU Lifestyle

(Photo Credit: HBCU Lifestyle)

Instead of allowing primarily members of the dominant culture to make the central issue surrounding historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) about whether they’re still relevant, HBCU alumni need to transition the national discourse on HBCUs to more alumni financial support to their institutions.  One of the core reasons why most predominantly white institutions (PWIs) continue to experience success and remain financially stable is they receive significant financial support from their alumni.  If alumni and supporters of HBCUs would make giving financial support to their institutions a true priority, then the relevancy questions about HBCUs will have dramatically less impact.

Many HBCUs are among the finest institutions in the nation and produce many of the best professionals in the world.  Although greater federal, state and private dollars are needed to buttress HBCUs, alums cannot sit back and wait on funding from these sources to arrive and increase. Too many graduates of HBCUs haven’t and aren’t donating to these institutions that have given so much to them.  These institutions, however, have to better engage their alumni.  HBCUs must encourage alumni to be active in important activities sponsored by their institutions.  Alumni shouldn’t just hear from institutions only when financial solicitations come in the mail. HBCU administrators must become even more ebullient in their efforts to fundraise as they are about staying in contact with their alumni and learning what concerns, suggestions, comments, and questions it has.  For alumni to begin to give more money to their HBCUs, it needs to feel truly important to these institutions.  Better engagement with alumni does not mean more financial solicitations.

HBCU graduates have to understand how vital the conversations they have about the institutions that produced them are to the continued success of these institutions.  HBCU alums cannot expect their institutions to prosper when they’re constantly having negative discourses about them.  What you say about HBCUs, even via social media, can have an immense impact on them.  You should really think about the harm you can cause to HBCUs when you express your complaints about them via social media.  Make great efforts to resolve your issues with leaders at these institutions before you do an unproductive thing like airing your anger about them on Facebook and/or Twitter.  While you may feel you’re just venting or attempting to get your point across, many people are out there who desire to dismantle HBCUs and they will use your comments as fuel and evidence for their nefarious efforts.

The complaints of alums, however, shouldn’t go unanswered.  If HBCU administrators want to see more financial giving to their institutions, then they must employ better ways to hear and address complaints of alums, especially when those complaints are credible.  Even when complaints aren’t legitimate, it matters to alums that their voices are perceived as being heard.  These institutions can do a better job of resolving tensions that exist within by establishing a meaningful relationship with their alumni.  A meaningful relationship cannot simply be developed by interacting with alums around the time Homecoming is approaching and during the week of Homecoming.

Establishing meaningful relationships with alums, engaging them in essential institutional activities, and empowering them with a voice that matters will yield greater financial support for HBCUs from alumni.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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College is Expensive So Cut Costs and Save More

College Expenses

(Photo Credit: Original People)

Nearly 20 million Americans attend college each year, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education. Of that number, 60% borrow money to cover the costs.  Footing the bill for a higher education can be daunting, and the last thing you need to be worrying about while blazing your career path is how to fund the next four years.  This piece offers some fairly painless ways you can cut costs and earn extra money while remaining on top of your already overflowing to-do list.

Start a Business

Starting your own business can help you manage costs while you’re in school and if done well, could even become your full-time career.  A funding site like Kickstarter can help generate interest and funding for your product without having to go door to door peddling your wares.  To date, the site has helped fund 55,000 creative projects with $950 million in pledges.  Therefore, depending on your craft, you can obtain substantial support to finance your venture while keeping ownership over your creativity.

You can also secure funding for your business through other means.  Look for assets you can liquidate. For example, if you receive regular structured settlement payments, you may be able to sell your future payments for a lump sum of cash now.  You could then use the money to build capital toward your enterprise.  You can learn more about selling your future payments at J.G. Wentworth’s Facebook page.

Create a Budget and Stick to It

CNN reported in June of 2013 that 76% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, but financial analysts recommend everyone build a six-month cushion of savings.  A budget will aid you in saving for your future.

Start by calculating all your expenditures for a month.  Once you’re aware of what you spend, you can resolve where you can cut costs.  For example, instead of indulging in eating dinner at restaurants every Friday, consider having more candlelight dinners at home with tasty appetizers.  Use a budgeting app like Mint.com to help you track your spending.

Cut Costs

  • Instead of purchasing brand new textbooks, take advantage of used bookstores and e-books. Sell your books once the semester is finished.

  • For transportation, carpool, take the bus or subway or check out whether Zipcar services are available in your area.  Check if the Student Services office offers students who commute any options to reduce their gas bill.

  • Food costs can be tackled by thinking ahead.  Clip coupons, make shopping lists and stick to them—this way you won’t impulsively buy food you don’t need when you get to the store and blow your budget.  Thinking ahead will also help when you are deep in the throes of a cramming session the night before an exam and hunger rears its ugly head.  Instead of ordering takeout, you can rely on your well-stocked refrigerator for a perfect snack.

Begin to transform your spending habits to save money and become the fiscally conscious citizen you aspire to be.  In time, you will be able to spend more extravagantly, knowing you have a thriving savings to see you through the tougher times.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

A Brief History of Student Loans

Student Loans

(Photo Credit: BET)

Modern universities that require a sizable investment of resources have only recently become the norm for higher education.  A glance at the archives of University of Pennsylvania from the 1950s suggests generations of yesteryear paid a fraction of what students do today.  When did filling out a loan application become a requirement for completing a college application?

In The Beginning

American higher education systems take their model from European universities.  Some of the oldest universities, such as Oxford University in England, charged nothing for students to live and study behind their walls, since many students who went into a university intended to take up a religious order afterward.  Instead, they required these pupils to perform a range of diverse services, including food preparation and laundry, for instructors.

Financial Shifts

For several centuries, universities only accepted students with the intention of going into religious orders.  During the Renaissance, however, increasingly more universities competed with one another to attract the best teachers and students.  The Italian city of Bologna spent about 20,000 ducats on its university, which amounted to nearly half the city’s expenditures, according to Melissa Snell, About.com’s Higher Education Guide.  The increase in teachers’ salaries resulted in higher tuition for students.  Banks and lending institutions sprung up during the Renaissance to give financial backing for all types of investments, including education. These banks competed just as universities did, trying to entice better mathematical minds and to offer lower interest rates to customers.

American Universities

The first Ivy League schools founded in the U.S., such as Harvard and Yale, charged only a fraction of what they do today.  According to the Yale University Undergraduate Admissions offices, the university charges $60,000 a year for a four-year degree (although the university also takes great lengths to provide financial aid).  However, a few hundred years ago the cost of admission to an Ivy League school would have been only a few British pounds per year, back when an American colonist earned about 20 to 30 pounds per year.

Federal Loans

After World War II, the American government threw its weight behind the GI Bill in order to provide comprehensive education for soldiers returning home from fighting in Europe and the Pacific.  Federal involvement in student loans intensified with the National Defense Education Act of 1958, the Higher Education Act of 1965 and the 1972 Student Loan Marketing Association, according to The Huffington Post.  While these government-approved funds made it easier to get a loan, it also increased the money supply going into universities.

Today’s Students

Universities in the U.S. have elevated their tuition rates nearly every year for the past decade. This does not mean, however, that degrees are not worth the investment.  The degrees awarded by music production schools in California allow students to pursue a career in music production or management, giving them the technical and business tools needed for success.  Higher education is an investment that still has a payoff.  According to a recent report from the U.S. Census Bureau, the lifetime earnings of college graduates are still greater than non-college graduates.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison