North Carolina A&T Takes the Top Spot as the Largest HBCU

Three students show their “Aggie Pride” on the campus of North Carolina A&T State University.
Photo via North Carolina A&T State University.

The Greensboro News and Record recently reported that North Carolina A&T State University has taken the top position as the nation’s largest HBCU by student enrollment. According to preliminary fall enrollment numbers, North Carolina A&T which was second largest a year ago, has approximately 10,734 students on list this year.

“It shows that the strategies put in place to move us toward the fulfillment of A&T Preeminence 2020 are paying off,” said Akua Matherson, associate vice chancellor for enrollment management.

North Carolina A&T Preeminence 2020 is the university’s strategic plan. One of the key metrics to measure success is a total enrollment of 13,500. To meet that mark, the university has to continue: recruiting right-fit students while becoming the institution of choice for more transfer students; generating significant growth in graduate enrollment; strengthening the research enterprise and research opportunities; and improving upon student retention rates.

While, university officials credited North Carolina A&T’s enrollment rise, of about 1.6 percent (approximately 173 enrollments) since the last year, to more focused efforts on recruiting transfer students and improved undergraduate retention strategies, there is certainly much more to it. Perhaps, the big reason of North Carolina A&T takeover of the No.1 position is Florida A&M University’s enrollment decline.

Florida A&M University has been the largest HBCU in the nation for years. However, this time several issues have caused the school to lose nearly a quarter of its students.

Among them are, stricter rules on federal Parent Plus Loan, 41% higher tuition, the death of a FAMU band member in year 2011, which led to the two year suspension of the Marching 100 band, the resignation of the university president, criminal charges against 15 band members, and probation from the school’s accrediting agency. Not to mention that all these led to a lot of negative national publicity. Steep decline in enrollment followed which pushed FAMU to the No.3 position and cleared the way for North Carolina A&T.

It also helped country’s biggest private HBCU, Howard University in Washington, D.C to move up the ladder up to second spot this year with about 10, 500 student enrollment.

Overall, it’s great to see the continuous growth at North Carolina A&T. They have earned their spot on top of the list. But, when it comes to selecting a college, should enrollment numbers be the only deal breaker? Or, other factors are equally important? Let us know your thoughts through comments.

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