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.
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HSIs and HBCUs comprised the pool of MSIs in Texas at the time of our analysis. Recent MSI designation includes institutions serving Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders, although these institutions are community colleges and thus not included in our analysis.
We use the terms Latino and Hispanic interchangeably in this analysis. We do the same for Black and African American. We do not use the term predominantly White institutions (PWIs); due to the demography of Texas, many institutions in the state are not necessarily predominantly White, even if they are not officially an MSI.
Fryer and Greenstone (2010) use various longitudinal national datasets from the 1970s and 1990s to examine the consequences of attending an HBCU over time, finding a penalty of a 20 % decline in the relative wages of Black HBCU graduates compared to Black non-HBCU graduates between these two decades. While the authors compare the effect of attending an HBCU on Black student cohorts over time using propensity score matching and a number of other quasi-experimental techniques, they acknowledge that a small sample size, among other issues, did not remove all issues of selection in their analysis. The authors also restrict the sample to degree completers and pay particular attention to wages in the labor market after graduation, rather than to factors that lead to degree completion itself.
Black-Serving Institutions (BSIs) are an increasingly important area of study within MSI research. The US Department of Education defines BSIs as non-HBCUs whose undergraduate student body comprises at least 25 % Black students, while other minority groups do not comprise more than 25 % of that same population (Li 2007). We limit our analysis to HBCUs, since our analyses indicate that there are significantly more undergraduates in the Texas HBCU sector than the non-HBCU, BSI sector.
While the original Title V funding supported up to 14 different types of capacity-building activities, these activities were reduced to seven allowable activities with the 2008 reauthorization of the Higher Education Opportunity Act in order to focus primarily on faculty development and student services, initiatives that were to support improvements in student success at HSIs (Villarreal and Santiago 2012).
In developing this paper, we also experimented with different matching techniques, including one-to-many analyses, as suggested by Guo and Fraser (2010). In all cases, the results from these analyses were similar to those from our one-to-one matching technique.
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The data used in this paper include administrative records from the Texas Education Agency and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. The conclusions of this research do not necessarily reflect the opinions or official position of the Texas Education Agency, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, or the State of Texas.
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Flores, S.M., Park, T.J. The Effect of Enrolling in a Minority-Serving Institution for Black and Hispanic Students in Texas. Res High Educ 56, 247–276 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11162-014-9342-y
- Higher education
- Minority-Serving Institutions
- Hispanic-Serving Institutions
- Historically Black Colleges and Universities
- College completion