Louisiana's Black Colleges See Enrollment Increase

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — After years of decline, brought on by tougher admission standards and stringent requirements for student loans, enrollment at most historically black colleges and universities in Louisiana, has risen modestly.

         Last year, Grambling State University's fall enrollment totaled 4,553 — an increase of 49 students from the previous fall.

         Southern University saw a fall enrollment increase of 322 students in 2015.

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         The Times’ Segann March reports higher education experts say the increase could be due in part to a rise in the number of non-black students attending historically black schools, as well as recent racial conflicts at predominantly white institutions.

         But for some black colleges and universities, the enrollment trend is still down.

         Dillard University's enrollment has fluctuated over the past four years with enrollment dipping by 15 students last fall.

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         Southern University Law Center has experienced a recurring decline in enrollment since 2013. Last fall, enrollment was down by 15 students.

         The number of non-traditional black students is growing at campuses because of lower tuition, higher academic programs and more students wanting to attend a safer college environment, said Marybeth Gasman, a higher education professor at the University of Pennsylvania and director of the Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions.

         "We're seeing an influx of Latino students and also Asian students at HBCUs, but that's happening at all kinds of institutions," Gasman said. "For a long time it wasn't happening at HBCUs, and just in the past five years, it's been happening a lot more. A lot of schools will see more white students if they have an MBA program, law school or programs that aren't at other institutions, but there's still some prejudice and racism that stops white students from going to HBCUs."

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         Gasman also attributes negative media coverage on predominantly white institutions to sparking an increase in attendance.

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