New study: Black Florida students see $130,000 in total gain from four-year college enrollment
At HBCUs Black students experience 40% surge in bachelor’s degree completion
TAMPA, Fla. – A compelling two-part study by Helios Education Foundation reveals the significant value of Black students in Florida obtaining a college degree. The research also underscores the specific benefits seen by some Black students when attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
Research findings, conducted in partnership with the Institute of Higher Education at the University of Florida, show that Black Florida students who attended a four-year college or university between 2004 and 2010 will experience a net present value  (or total value) of $130,000 after 35 years from initial enrollment. In other words, these students will see a positive overall financial benefit from pursuing a higher education. The research indicates that their average estimated household earnings are projected to be $8,583 higher than those Black Florida students who did not enroll in college. Additionally, the research shows that when a Black Florida student enrolls in a four-year college or university it increases the likelihood they will surpass the 50th percentile of earners in Florida.
“These findings point to a powerful narrative about Black students pursuing higher education – that college is still worth it,” said Paul J. Luna, Helios Education Foundation president and CEO. “Education is an investment that changes lives, and Helios is committed to creating more opportunities for student success in postsecondary education in Florida. This study makes a strong case that efforts to increase college enrollment rates have a substantial return on investment for Black high school graduates in Florida and for the state.”
The study used one of the largest and richest student-level datasets in the U.S. to follow Black students throughout the state of Florida from high school to college, and through tracking their financial outcomes in 2017. In total, the study examined 96,710 Black students who took the SAT between 2004 and 2010. Approximately 35% of the Black SAT-takers sent an application to at least one HBCU in the U.S. and about 40% of those students initially enrolled at an HBCU.
The second part of the study highlights the vital role of HBCUs in Florida’s higher education landscape. Most notably, the study found that there is a 40% increase in the probability of earning a bachelor’s degree when Black students enroll at an HBCU versus those who enroll at predominately white institutions.
Additionally, Florida’s four HBCUs, including Bethune-Cookman University, Edward Waters University, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, and Florida Memorial University graduate more Black students in STEM disciplines than all other Florida universities combined. Furthermore, HBCU enrollment increases the likelihood an individual’s earnings will reside in Florida and surpass the 75th percentile of Black SAT takers by 2.7 percentage points (14%).
“Despite the abundance of research showing the value of attending college, comparatively little is known about the specific individual and state-level implications of improving college attainment among Black students,” said Dr. Paul Perrault, Senior Vice President of Community Impact and Learning for Helios Education Foundation. “This study helps fill that void and provides valuable information on the current return on investment of Black students attending college. Imagine the individual and state benefits if there was a greater commitment to increasing Black student college enrollment in Florida.”
 Net present value is a measure that captures the total value for a student of investing in going to college. Net present value is the discounted sum of streams of estimated income in years not enrolled in college less net tuition for each year enrolled in college. A positive net present value means that students will likely benefit financially from investing in going to college.
Additional findings on Black Florida student College enrollment:
- Starting at a four-year institution raises the probability of Black students earning a bachelor's degree by 42.9 percentage points.
- Black students who attend four-year institutions are 36.6 percentage points more likely to complete a college degree and live in Florida around age 30.
- Two-year college students see a net present value of $50,000 35 years after initial college enrollment.
- Relative to individuals who do not enroll in college, two-year college students are expected to see an increase in annual average household earnings of $6,492.
Additional findings on Black Florida student HBCU enrollment:
- HBCUs provide Black students with viable four-year alternatives to community college, with 6% of HBCU enrollees attending four-year institutions.
- The probability of Black students earning a bachelor’s degree when enrolled at an HBCU is 13.5 percentage points higher than if they attended a non-HBCU institution.
- HBCU students see a net present value (or total value) of $60,000 35 years after initial college enrollment.
- HBCU enrollment increases estimated household earnings among Black students by 6.8%.
About The Institute of Higher Education at the University of Florida
Founded in 1968, the Institute of Higher Education (IHE) at the University of Florida conducts cutting-edge research and offers data-driven recommendations for higher education administrators and policymakers seeking to better understand the critical problems facing higher education at the local, state, and national levels. IHE partners with individual colleges and state systems to provide rigorous and innovative assessments of current practices and policies aimed at improving student access and success, with a special emphasis on partnering with Florida College System institutions.