While many colleges around the country continued to notice steep declines in enrollment, applications to HBCUs rose during the pandemic, reports the Amsterdam News. Some of the country’s largest historically Black institutions have experienced record numbers of applications over the last year.

According to the study, Morgan State University saw an almost 60% increase in applications since the 2020 school year, with about 14,600 applicants applying to the school. Spelman College reported a 22% increase, Howard University saw an 11% increase in applicants since last year, and North Carolina A&T reported a 7% increase from 2019.

Dr. Kara Turner, vice president for Enrollment Management at Morgan State, said that students are seeking a safe space to pursue their studies.

“Students are looking for this place where they feel that they’re going to be safe, where they’re going to be physically safe, where they’re going to be mentally and psychologically safe,” explained Turner.

One of the main reasons cited in the study for the dramatic increase in applicants was the deaths of Black people at the hands of police which garnered significant media attention in 2020. 

Another factor is that HBCUs are drawing top-notch talent to join their ranks as professors. In July, Howard University announced that Nikole Hannah-Jones and Ta-Nehisi Coates as the first Knight Chair in Race and Journalism and a faculty position at the College of Arts and Sciences

In addition to national attention, HBCUs are receiving more financial gifts from outside organizations. The MacArthur Foundation donated $5 million to support the Center for Journalism and Democracy while adding another $1.25 million to help fund the next phase of Hannah-Jones’ world-renowned The 1619 Project. In December of last year, MacKenzie Scott gifted $40 million to Morgan State.

Back in October, Netflix, along with Simone Ledward-Boseman, announced a $5.4 million endowed Chadwick A. Boseman Memorial Scholarship to cover four years of tuition at Howard University's College of Fine Arts, which was renamed after Boseman earlier this year.