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The $1 Billion Impact of Alabama’s HBCUs

Signs are shown at Miles College in Fairfield, Ala. (Photo by Mark Almond)

HBCUs are economic engines in their Alabama communities and beyond, generating substantial economic returns year after year, according to a landmark study commissioned by the United Negro College Fund (UNCF)—HBCUs Make America Strong: The Positive Economic Impact of Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

HBCU faculty, employees, and students produce—and consume—a wide range of goods and services, which spurs economic activity on and beyond campus. The result? More jobs, stronger growth, and more vibrant communities. Meanwhile, Alabama’s workforce is bolstered by a steady supply of highly trained and success-oriented HBCU graduates.

The positive economic impact of Alabama’s HBCUs is large and lasting. The numbers (based on 2014 data) tell the story.

Total Economic Impact: $1.5 Billion

  • Together, Alabama’s HBCUs generate $1.5 billion in total economic impact. This estimate includes direct spending by HBCUs on faculty, employees, academic programs and operations and by students attending the institutions, as well as the follow-on effects of that spending.
  • Every dollar in initial spending by Alabama’s HBCUs generates $1.30 in initial and successive spending. This “multiplier effect” means that, on average, each dollar spent by the state’s HBCUs and their students generates an additional 30 cents for their local and regional economies.
  • Many HBCUs are located in regions of the country where overall economic activity has been lagging, making their economic contributions to those communities all the more essential.

Total Employment Impact: 15,062 Jobs

  • Alabama’s HBCUs generate 15,062 jobs in total for their local and regional economies. Of this total, 6,421 are on-campus jobs, and 8,641 are off-campus jobs.
  • For each job created on an HBCU campus in Alabama, another 1.3 public- and private-sector jobs are created off campus because of HBCU-related spending.
  • Looked at in a different way: Each $1 million initially spent by an Alabama HBCU and its students creates 13 jobs.

Total Lifetime Earnings for Graduates: $12.5 Billion

  • HBCUs play a major role in the economic success of their graduates by enhancing their education, training and leadership skills. In fact, the 5,682 Alabama HBCU graduates in 2014 can expect total earnings of $12.5 billion over their lifetimes—that’s 42 percent more than they could expect to earn without their college credentials.
  • Or, viewed on an individual basis: An Alabama HBCU graduate working full-time throughout his or her working life can expect to earn $656,000 in additional income due to a college credential.1

1This estimate reflects incremental earnings averaged across degree and certificate programs.

#HBCUStrong; UNCF.org/HBCUsMakeAmericaStrong; The University of Georgia, Terry College of Business, Selig Center for Economic Growth; Underwritten by Citi Foundation.

MILES COLLEGE by the numbers

Fairfield’s Miles College, one of the Birmingham area’s premier private HBCUs has itself seen ambitious goals for its future. Here are some stats on the institution.

1898 — Year founded

1,258 — Total enrollment (Fall 2022)

1,203  — Number of full-time students

30 — Number of undergraduate programs

$23,054 — Annual full-time tuition, fees, room, and board

95 — Percentage of students receiving financial aid

$8,043 — Average financial aid award

280 — Total number of employees

64 — Percentage of faculty who are full time

60 — Percentage of faculty with PhDs or terminal degree

39 — Size of campus in acres

41 — Number of acres available for development of North Campus

25 — Number of buildings on campus

115 — Number of students who graduated in May 2023

$47M — Annual operating budget

9,251 — Number of alumni

39 — Percentage of students who continue their education, pursuing advanced degrees

$27M — Endowment value

Source: Miles College