The Effect of Enrolling in a Minority-Serving Institution for Black and Hispanic Students in Texas
Using state administrative data for three cohorts of college enrollees from 1997 to 2008 and incorporating propensity score matching techniques, we examine the effects of attending a Minority-Serving Institution (MSI)—that is, a Historically Black College or University (HBCU) or a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI)—on college-completion outcomes in Texas. Descriptively, we find the gender gap among Black students to be quite stark, with more Black males than females enrolling in HBCUs, although this gap has decreased over time. The income gap is greatest among Hispanic students, with economically disadvantaged students enrolling more frequently at HSIs and those more economically advantaged enrolling in traditional institutions, or non-HSIs. To address this selection bias, we conducted a propensity score analysis in our assessment of college completion. The results indicate that, after matching similar students who attend and do not attend an MSI and conditioning on institutional capacity factors, we no longer see a difference between the bachelor’s degree completion rates of Hispanic and Black students who do enroll in an MSI and those who do not for most of the cohorts examined. Where a significant negative effect on college completion does exist for Black students attending an HBCU, the rate is considerably lower in our matched sample. In sum, our results provide strong evidence that the effect of attending an MSI does not have a consistent negative or positive effect on college-graduation outcomes after matching similar students and controlling for institutional capacity, despite these schools serving a larger share of high-need and underprepared students.