Financial literacy has plagued African Americans forever. According to marketwatch.com, Black families held about 1.9 percent of American wealth, with $18.3 billion in assets compared to white families’ $941.9 billion. African Americans were enslaved for over 400 years, meaning that they are 400 years behind in most things such as finances, businesses, experiences, etc.
African Americans were promised 40 acres and a mule from the Union General William T. Sherman’s Special Field Order No. 15, issued on Jan. 16, 1865 to compensate for these things, but they never got them. This would have significantly helped them out, but they never received this.
After slavery ended, African Americans were placed in low-income housing. Many never made it out, and many are still in this situation today.
Recently, HBCUs have become notorious for having financial issues, and this affects the students negatively. Some of the issues that students deal with are through financial aid, or having issues of not being able to manage their money properly.
Adontre Johnson is a fourth-year business student at FAMU from Tallahassee. “I have had the most issues with financial aid being released extremely slow or having to constantly request updates from the department to receive the funds in general,” Johnson said. “I know a big part of it is due to FAMU and HBCUs in general being underfunded compared to our counterparts, but it does get frustrating when you can’t receive your scholarships or grants on the dates that they are supposed to be released and you have other responsibilities to take care of.”
Johnson is one of the many students that face issues like these.
Based on data from the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finance, the typical Black family has only 10 cents for every dollar held by the typical white family. To help resolve this, HBCUs should give students the option to enroll in a financial literacy course. Many HBCUs do not provide financial literacy courses, and very few have financial literacy centers for the students to learn about managing their money.
If students were allotted the option to take a financial literacy course, they would be more equipped to make rational financial decisions, and it would be able to help them achieve their financial goals and navigate the complexities of the modern financial world more effectively.