A new report found Humboldt State University ranked high for being an LGBTQ-friendly and affordable school. (Humboldt State University — Contributed)
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Humboldt State University is one of the nation’s most-affordable LGBTQ-friendly colleges, a recent survey found.

The study, done by Student Loan Hero, which is owned by online lending exchange Lending Tree, ranked Humboldt State as No. 15 for in-state students and No. 23 for out-of-state students.

“We’re very proud to be recognized for what this campus has put forth to improve our equity and inclusion of all students,” said Wayne Brumfield, HSU’s interim vice president of student affairs. “It showed how seriously we’re taking the efforts to support LGBTQ students while we’re trying to remain an affordable source to students in higher education.”

The data-driven report looked at costs reported to the U.S. Department of Education for tuition as well as on-campus living costs, the likelihood of receiving financial aid and the school’s placement on the Campus Pride Index, which ranks schools on their level of LGBTQ-friendliness.

Lending Tree’s Kali McFadden, a senior researcher on the project, said only those who ranked highest on the Campus Pride Index were considered for the report.

“We selected every school that got a least a four (out of five stars) on the Pride Index — what schools are the top rates for LGBTQ friendliness on campus,” she said.

From there, the top-ranked LGBTQ-friendly schools were considered based on costs to attend.

“University and colleges have to report to the Department of (Education) what their list price is for tuition, fees, things like that,” McFadden said. “They also have to turn over costs of attendance. That would include things like room and board and other on-campus expenses. We added that all together for someone who is going to live on campus.”

Both Brumfield and Grant Scott-Goforth, a spokesman for the university, said there are plenty of LGBTQ resources on campus that contributed to making it a safe, inclusive and educationally successful environment.

“A lot of the research that’s been going on across the country show LGBTQ students face harassment in higher education settings,” Brumfield said. “We’ve been working hard to make sure students feel safe. When students feel safe and supported, it helps them to succeed academically and it improves the overall well being on campus overall. We are very proud to have this recognition.”

One of those resources is the Eric Rofes Multicultural Queer Resource Center, which helps connect LGBTQ students on campus and hosts events throughout the year. Past events have included speed dating, safe sex workshops and discussions on personal pronouns, which in the LGBTQ community can become complex.

Students at HSU also have the option to live in dorms that are specifically tailored to the LGBTQ community and offer gender-inclusive options.

Brumfield said that creates a quality experience for students.

“They enjoy having the support,” he said. “The thing that we have to do is, even if they don’t tell us, we know they need the support and guidance. … As we move to expand our programming activities, these are the things that help them to navigate the campus and the environment. The support piece, we know, aids in student success.”

More information on Student Loan Hero’s listing can be found at https://bit.ly/2UnyxcU.

OUTspoken prints weekly in the Times-Standard. Ruth Schneider can be reached at 707-441-0520.

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