HOUSTON - Despite overall college enrollment being down nationwide, a record number of students are choosing to attend Historically Black Colleges and Universities. And many HBCU's are receiving boosts in funding from donors, businesses, and the federal government.
FOX 26 news intern, Jada Pierre, who attends an HBCU, and I have been diving into this record growth and talking with students to learn why they're choosing these colleges.
"I always feel like I’m loving where I’m at, what I’m doing, who I am. I feel like it's really allowed me to become the best version of myself," said Zoe Purdy, a Spellman College student.
"Being a Black student, being able to foster that community of people who are doing the right things, who are striving to reach higher education," added Breche' Devault, a student at Florida A&M University. "It's just very inspiring."
The website Common Black College Application reports applications are approaching 40,000 this year, four times the number in 2016.
"Last year we saw a significant increase, the last two years," said its founder Robert Mason.
And enrollment is soaring at some HBCU's, including Morgan State, North Carolina A&T State, Howard, and Prairie View A&M University.
"What does it mean to entrench yourself in Black culture? What does it mean to have Black identity? And I think that is something that HBCU's have been known for," said Fred Bonner, Executive Director of Minority Achievement at Prairie View A&M University.
Texas Southern University reports a nearly 44% increase in applications over last year, attributed to an emphasis on enrollment, freshmen scholarships, and Megan Thee Stallion's graduation from the school in December.
Enrollments and donations to HBCU's have spiked since the death of George Floyd, and attention on high-profile HBCU graduates, such as Vice President Kamala Harris, who attended Howard University. Students say their reasons for choosing HBCU's include career networking opportunities and a sense of refuge from racism.
"I felt at home, I came. I felt the energy. The energy was all high. The faculty and staff all seemed very caring, personable, and honest," said Yukwon Toney, a FAMU student.
Some students say they have chosen HBCU'S over Ivy League schools.
"I chose to go to an HBCU because I wanted to be in an environment where Black excellence is catered to, where it prospers and where it thrives," said Niyah Baldwin, a FAMU student.