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Black students who attend historically black colleges and universities are more likely to attend graduate school in fields where minorities are underrepresented, such as science and business, than their African-American peers who attend traditionally white institutions, according to a recent report. And because HBCUs typically offer lower tuition and more generous financial-aid packages than other institutions, they make higher education accessible to students who might not be able to attend college otherwise, said Harold Wenglinsky, who wrote the report released by the Educational Testing Service this month.

"These are important findings given the current moves by state and federal officials to close, merge, or reconstitute HBCUs," said Mr. Wenglinsky, a researcher for the Policy Information Center at the Princeton, N.J.-based ets.

For the report, Mr. Wenglinsky crunched data from three different sources, including a 1993 database of students registered to take the Graduate Record Examination and the U.S. Department of Education's National Postsecondary Student Aid Study of 1990.

In 1990, the average student attending an HBCU paid $1,945 in tuition, while students attending other institutions paid an average of $3,309. The tuition difference is important, the researcher said, because many HBCU students indicated that affordable tuition helped persuade them to attend their college or university.

The study also says that blacks who graduate from HBCUs are more likely to seek graduate education than those who graduate from other colleges.

For example, although African-American HBCU graduates make up only 28 percent of all black college graduates, 33 percent of the blacks who took the GRE in 1993 came from such colleges.

Black HBCU graduates are also more likely to pursue graduate education in science, business, and engineering than their counterparts from other institutions, the study found.

Of the 1993 GRE test registrants, 22 percent of black men who graduated from HBCUs said they intended to major in an academic science in graduate school, compared with only 15 percent of their peers from other colleges.

And 5 percent of black female HBCU graduates reported that they planned to major in business, while only 1 percent of the black women who graduated from other types of universities listed the same aspiration.

Copies of "Students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities: Their Aspirations and Accomplishments" are $9.50 each, prepaid, from the Policy Information Center, Mailstop 04-R, Educational Testing Service, Rosedale Road, Princeton, NJ 08541-0001; (609) 734-5694; e-mail: [email protected].

--JESSICA L. SANDHAM [email protected]

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