By Kim Clark
April 12, 2016

The editors of Money and Essence have collaborated to create their first-ever list of the “50 Best Colleges for African Americans.”

Based on data collected for Money’s annual “Best Colleges for Your Money” feature and the Money College Planner website, the new list singles out schools that offer the best value specifically for African-American students.

The new rankings focus on four key factors, including African-American graduation rates, affordability, graduates’ earnings potential, and campus diversity.

The 5o best schools represent a mix of “elite” colleges, large public universities, and historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) that should give students and their parents a wide selection.

Here are the colleges that made the list’s top 10.


10. University of Maryland, College Park

John T. Consoli/University of Maryland

With more than 800 clubs, sports, or extracurricular activities, this big and diverse flagship campus offers a community for just about any interest.

Percentage of students who are African-American: 11%
African-American graduation rate: 77%
Estimated average net price of a degree: $96,300
Estimated average student debt load at graduation: $19,500


9. North Carolina A&T State University

Jessie Gladdek

Now the nation’s largest HBCU, NCA&T has become one of the hottest schools for African Americans interested in science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM). Each year, this school alone graduates more African-American STEM students than the entire Ivy League combined.

Percentage of students who are African American: 80%
African-American graduation rate: 49%
Estimated average net price of a degree: $77,800
Estimated average student loan debt at graduation: $23,000


8. Yale University

Yale University

Yale offers world-famous professors and generous financial aid. Students from families earning less than $65,000 typically get grants covering everything but about $5,000, which they can raise by working on campus or borrowing at low rates from the federal government.

Percentage of students who are African American: 5%
African-American graduation rate: 92%
Estimated average net cost of a degree: $196,500
Estimated average student debt load at graduation: $12,000


7. University of Pennsylvania

Courtesy of University of Pennsylvania

This Ivy League school in the heart of Philadelphia is especially well known for its business program. Penn offers students from families earning less than $40,000 grants covering tuition, room, and board, leaving them with only a few thousand dollars for costs such as books, travel, and laundry.

Percentage of students who are African American: 6%
African-American graduation rate: 94%
Estimated average net price of a degree: $207,000
Estimated average student debt load at graduation: $21,500


6. Spelman College

Courtesy of Spelman College

This elite women’s HBCU has produced celebrities like Keshia Knight Pulliam and academic stars as well. Spelman is one of the nation’s top producers of Fulbright winners.

Percentage of students who are African American: 87%
African-American graduation rate: 75%
Estimated average net price of a degree: $172,800
Estimated average student debt load at graduation: $27,000


5. Florida A&M University

Courtesy of Florida A&M University

This public HBCU in Tallahassee may be large, but it’s also very selective, accepting only about half of applicants. It’s also very affordable. Almost 90% of students get grants or scholarships to cover at least some of their costs. Although its graduation rate is comparatively low, it graduates a high number of STEM majors, which gives it a boost in our rankings.

Percentage of students who are African American: 87%
African-American graduation rate: 39%
Estimated average net price of a degree: $94,300
Estimated average student debt load at graduation: $27,300


4. Cornell University

University Photography & Cornell University

This Ivy League college in rural upstate New York has a long history of diversity. Black Cornell students founded the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. Another unique aspect: Part of the school is public and charges New Yorkers enrolled in that division low in-state tuition.

Percentage of students who are AfricanAmerican: 5%
African-American graduation rate: 88%
Estimated average net price of a degree: $216,200
Estimated average student debt load at graduation: $11,200

 


3. Duke University

Jared Lazarus/Duke Photography

Duke is one of the most diverse and generous elite colleges in the country. It’s tough to get into: Duke accepts about 12% of applicants. But freshmen from families earning less than $60,000 get grants covering all but about $2,600, which they can raise from an on-campus job.

Percentage of student body who are African American: 7%
African-American graduation rate: 92%
Estimated average net price of a degree: $213,000
Estimated average debt load at graduation: $6,500


2. Harvard University

Stephanie Mitchell—Harvard University

This Ivy League college offers world-leading professors and unusually generous financial aid. More than 20% of students—those from families earning less than $65,000—get full rides plus an extra $2,000 to cover incidental expenses. Families earning between $65,000 and $150,000 are charged a maximum of 10% of their income.

Percentage of students who are African American: 5%
African-American graduation rate: 96%
Estimated average net price of a degree: $176,500
Estimated average debt load at graduation: $6,000


1. Princeton University

Brian Wilson & Princeton University

Princeton has a track record of producing high-achieving African Americans, such as Michelle Obama and John Rogers, founder of Ariel Capital Management. It also offers extremely generous aid: full rides for students from families earning less than $65,000. And it awards at least some need-based aid to families earning as much as $250,000.

Percentage of students who are African American: 6%
African-American graduation rate: 93%
Estimated average net price of a degree: $162,000
Average estimated debt load at graduation: $6,800

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