HBCU Spotlight – Tuskegee University

Tuskegee_University_sealHistorically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have served a vital and transformative role in the history of America. Many of this country’s most prominent civil rights activists, politicians, actors, scientists, scholars, and public figures attended or taught at HBCUs, and for students of all backgrounds who want to connect with and be inspired by this history, HBCUs can provide an excellent education and a sense of pride in the extraordinary accomplishments of the many students who have gone before them.

There is, however, another potential benefit of attending an HBCU. Many of the top HBCUs offer generous merit-based scholarships to students who have met certain GPA and test score requirements. In this series, we have profiled some of the top HBCUs in the country to show you the kinds of opportunities that exist at these historic institutions.

Tuskegee University

Located in Tuskegee, Alabama, Tuskegee University was founded as the Tuskegee Normal School in 1881, largely due to the efforts of Lewis Adams, a freed slave who, despite a lack of formal education, had become a skilled craftsman and had learned to read, write, and speak several languages. Adams became a leader in his community and saw the importance of education to the advancement of black Americans. In 1880, he made a deal with some white politicians that resulted in legislation that chartered and funded the school that would become the Tuskegee Institute and later Tuskegee University.

Booker T. Washington, one of Tuskegee's early leaders.
Booker T. Washington, one of Tuskegee’s early leaders.

The school’s first president, and one of the most influential figures in the history of the university and of the United States, was Booker T. Washington, who began serving as president of the school at the age of 25 in 1881 and continued until his death in 1915. Washington believed that economic advancement was the first step toward equality for America’s black communities, and gave the Tuskegee Institute a decidedly utilitarian mission: equipping students with the skills they needed to have good jobs in the economy of the time. While some (such as W.E.B. Du Bois) would later criticize Washington for this approach, Tuskegee helped create a rising black middle class at a time when few other opportunities existed for America’s people of color. Washington also employed a number of noteworthy professors, most famously, botanist George Washington Carver. During WWII, Tuskegee became famous for being the home of the Tuskegee Airmen, the first African-American pilots in the United States military, and in 1985 the Tuskegee Institute became Tuskegee University, which it remains to this day.

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Tuskegee has produced many notable alumni, including author Ralph Ellison; 1970s R&B band The Commodores; NASA engineer and inventor of the Super Soaker, Lonnie Johnson; Olympic gold medalist Alice Marie Coachman; Prime Minister of Guyana, Dr. Ptolemy A. Reid; Grammy Award-winning singer Lionel Richie; and many others. Tuskegee University offers three kinds of scholarships to incoming freshmen:

Scholarship GPA SAT (CR + Math) ACT Award Renewal GPA
Distinguished Presidential 3.7 1300 29 Full tuition, room/board, $800 for books 3.5
University Merit 3.5-3.69 1180 26 Full tuition, $800 for books 3.25
Tuskegee University Achievement 3.3-3.49 1100 23 $10,000 3.0


Additionally, Tuskegee offers two grants:

Grant GPA SAT (CR + Math) ACT Award Renewal GPA
Alabama Incentive Grant 2.6-3.0 950-1000 20-21 $4,000, housing 2.8
Tuskegee Grant 2.6-2.7 900-950 18-20 $5,000 2.5

To learn more, visit: http://tuskegee.edu/scholarships/freshman_scholarships.aspx

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