At black colleges, door open for whites

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Michael Roberts has done more than study finance at historically black Benedict College. He’s played football for the college, joined a fraternity and proposed to his girlfriend.

Pretty typical, except that Roberts is one of the few whites who attend one of the nation’s traditionally black colleges.

“When I tell people I attend Benedict, they comment, ‘Well, you’re not black,'” Roberts said. “But it’s still a school, I’m still getting an education. You don’t have to be black to attend.”

Officials for the nation’s historically black schools say Roberts’ experience is not that unusual. White students are being actively recruited, and attracting them has become easier for a variety of reasons, including the offer of scholarships and lower tuitions than those paid at non-black schools.

Private, historically black schools cost an average of $10,000 less per year than their traditionally white counterparts, according to the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education.

The head of the association says lower costs are not the only thing the schools have to offer. Whites who attend the schools are preparing for an “increasingly black and brown world,” said Lezli Baskerville, the association’s president and CEO.

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