According to a recent Washington Post article, the amount of money approved for Federal Parents PLUS loans fell 11 percent during the first three quarters of the 2012-2013 school year.  

At Historically Black colleges and Universities, where a greater percentage of students rely on these loans, the amount fell 36 percent, which resulted in a loss of $150 million in funds.

An estimated 28,000 HBCU students were forced to drop out of school as a result.   

That number didn’t sit well with Cheryl Harris, Allstate senior vice president and alumna of Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, which boasts the largest enrollment of any HBCU in the country. 

“Every student deserves and is entitled to an education, and the fact that the number of dropouts is that high is upsetting,” she says.

To help solve this issue, Allstate and the Tom Joyner Foundation are teaming up to help HBCU students pursue their dreams and stay in school by donating scholarship funds through Allstate’s 5th Annual Quotes for Education program.

From now until November 30, supporters can go online to request an insurance quote. For each person who receives a quote, Allstate will donate $10 to the TJF. Up to $150,000 will be earmarked for scholarships.

Harris says it’s also important to point out that “anyone who supports HBCUs can help out; you don’t have to be a student or graduate.”

An additional $50,000 in scholarships will be awarded to the HBCU that receives the most fan votes online.

“The Quotes for Education voting component was introduced last year,” Harris says. “It adds a fun, competitive edge to the program, and it helped increase knowledge of the Tom Joyner Foundation and HBCUs.”

Allstate’s Quotes for Education program launched in 2009, and for the third year in a row, they’ve selected the TJF as its charitable partner.

Harris describes Allstate’s partnership with the foundation as a “natural fit” due to a “shared vision and commitment to supporting students at HBCUs.”

Tom Joyner says it’s important to support and sponsor programs that strengthen the African-American community and HBCU students in particular.

“Whether or not you ever attend an HBCU, these schools continue to play an important role in shaping our nation’s youth and producing our future leaders,” he says. “It’s critical for all of us to invest in those who will make a difference in the fields they eventually enter.”

Although the Allstate Quotes for Education program intends to raise $150,000 in scholarship funds, Harris says it’s more about getting people to understand the importance of HBCUs and their students.

“HBCUs remain an important part of the higher education eco-system,” she says. “And it’s important to help students attending these schools to be able to afford to stay and complete their education.”

Harris grew up in Chicago’s inner city and strongly credits scholarships for helping her graduate from FAMU. 

“I hope to provide students with the same opportunity I was given,” she says. “Receiving an education should never be something that our youth goes without.”

She adds, “I’ve had great mentors and sponsors along the way [who] have modeled the importance of giving back. If there were not people like them before [who] reached back into the community to provide funding for scholarships, such as the one that I received, God only knows where I would be today.”

For more information on how to get involved, visit

Princess Gabbara is a senior at Eastern Michigan University, where she will soon earn her bachelor’s degree in journalism. You can read more of her work on her blog: Follow her on Twitter: @PrincessGabbara