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Florida A&M marching band
Strike up the band: Florida A&M topped our list of HBCUs and came in fifth in our overall rankings.
Courtesy of Florida A&M

Students interested in colleges that are solely focused on serving African-Americans can choose from among 100 colleges classified as Historically Black Colleges and Universities, or HBCUs.

But there are big differences among these schools in terms of affordability, student success rate, and even diversity on campus. For example, African-Americans now make up less than 10% of the student body at St. Philips College, a once all-black community college in San Antonio, Texas.

So which HBCUs offer the best overall value and experience for African-American students?

Money collaborated with Essence magazine, another Time Inc. title, analyzing more than 1,500 four-year colleges to single out the HBCUs that offer the best value for African-American students. We focused on these factors:

Academic quality. A school’s graduation rate for African-Americans is one of the best measures of how well it’s serving students.

Affordability. To evaluate costs, we analyzed student and parent borrowing, net prices charged to low-income students, and the average net price of a degree of each school, after subtracting its financial aid. (The net price you'll see below is our estimate of the average net price charged in-state students by the school, which is the full sticker price minus only institutional aid and adjusted for inflation and the average time it takes students to graduate, which is typically more than four years. Your net price will be lower if you receive a federal aid such as Pell grants, or state aid such as Hope scholarships, or manage to graduate in just four years.)

Earnings potential. Money used a recent analysis by the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce to identify colleges that produce relatively high earners, given the background of their student body.

Opportunity. A higher percentage of African-Americans among the student body is considered a plus in this ranking. The schools on this list all report that at least 64% of the students on campus are African-American.

No single college or even type of college is best for everyone. So in addition to our annual list of more than 700 Best Colleges for Your Money, we also publish lists tailored to different kinds of students. Our Find Your Fit tool takes it a step further and lets you create a customized list of schools based on the factors that are most important to you.

College (Essence rank) African-American graduation rate Estimated net price of a degree Average early career salary Average debt upon graduation
Florida A & M (5) Tallahassee, FL 39% $94,265 $45,900 $27,275
Spelman College (6) Atlanta, GA 75% $172,772 $41,800 $27,000
North Carolina A & T (9) Greensboro, NC 49% $77,799 $50,200 $23,006
Hampton University (15) Hampton, VA 67% $145,471 $42,600 $27,474
Bowie State University (16) Bowie, MD 33% $102,037 $42,700 $23,320
Virginia State University (20) Petersburg, VA 43% $102,310 $38,800 $28,451
Xavier University of Louisiana (21) New Orleans, LA 43% $111,790 $37,400 $27,000
Howard University (28) Washington, DC 60% $141,535 $47,500 $27,000
Alcorn State University (32) Alcorn State, MS 40% $95,586 $40,800 $27,941
Jackson State University (35) Jackson, MS 43% $84,687 $38,400 $31,000
Elizabeth City State University (37) Elizabeth City, NC 39% $62,310 $34,400 $24,886
Prairie View A & M (38) Prairie View, TX 37% $91,698 $56,000 $29,052
North Carolina Central University (43) Durham, NC 48% $84,920 $35,200 $30,203
Tennessee State University (44) Nashville, TN 42% $90,312 $45,100 $28,500
Winston-Salem State University (48) Winston-Salem, NC 46% $80,076 $43,900 $27,687