Xavier University in New Orleans Addresses the Dearth of Black Doctors

Xavier University produces the most black students who apply to and then graduate from medical school than any other institution. Nonetheless, even though blacks account for 13% of the population in the U.S., they only compose 4% of all medical doctors. Xavier was also the first university to graduate black students with bachelor’s degrees in biology and physics. It also is in the top four institutions graduating black pharmacists, and third for black graduates who continue on to earn doctorates in science and engineering. Its strong science program has won all of the acclamations without expensive, high-tech facilities, and it manages to keep its tuition low at $19,800 a year. Most of the students who attend Xavier are the first in their family to earn a college degree, and 50% come from lower-income families.
Xavier is a memeber of more than 100 colleges that are federally designated as historically black colleges and universities. These intuitions from the start were to educate the most marginalized. Nonetheless, black students are now attending schools that were once off limits, and the percentage of black students who attend historically black colleges has decreased from 90% in 1960 to 11% today.
A very small number of black students attend medical school, and the small percentage is a reflection of the poor schooling many of them received before going to college. Racial disparities in the kindergarten through 12th grade education are apparent, and black students receive very few resources to help them succeed. Last July, the ACT and United Negro College Fund published a report stating that almost 65% of black students who took the ACT did not meet any of the test’s college-readiness bottom lines. Xavier seeks to help students that did not have equal education in their high school years by encouraging the formation of tutoring groups. These groups encourage the students to work together and help each other, so that all the members can do well on the tests. The study groups encourage collaboration and reduce the competition within the classes. Xavier also provides advisors who help their students prepare for the MCATs and perfect their medical school applications for free.
Historically black colleges have strived to educate the neediest students with very limited resources. The University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education published a study that the public, 4-year historically black colleges in Louisiana award more than 40% of all bachelor’s degrees earned by black students in the state, but have the largest percentage of state funding cuts. Black students are also the most likely to borrow money for school and graduate with debt. Consequently, these students usually are not able to donate as much money back to their alma maters. Howard University has the largest endowment for historically black colleges at $586 million; meanwhile, Harvard has the largest endowment for white colleges at $32 billion. Since the colleges do not have large endowments, they must rely principally on tuition. Families of black students depend on PLUS loans (federal loans that parents can take out to pay for their children’s tuition), but in 2012, the Education Department rejected the PLUS loan applications of 14,616 students. 

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