Center for American Progress

RELEASE: Racial Disparities Persist Among Higher Education Completers, New CAP Issue Brief Finds
Press Release

RELEASE: Racial Disparities Persist Among Higher Education Completers, New CAP Issue Brief Finds

Washington, D.C. — Black and Hispanic graduates would have received 1 million additional bachelor’s degrees between 2013 and 2015 had they earned degrees at the same rate as their white peers, according to a new analysis released today by the Center for American Progress. Instead, these students largely completed associate degrees and certificates, which provide a smaller return on a student’s investment. The brief shows that white students are at a significant advantage compared with their black and Hispanic peers, graduating with higher level degrees from colleges that spend more on their education, among other advantages.

“While the discussion on equity in higher education often focuses on serious gaps in access and completion for black and Hispanic students, it is clear that those inequities persist even for those that do graduate,” said CJ Libassi, author of the issue brief. “We must work to create policies that recognize that structural and implicit bias may play a role in these discrepancies and work to address them.”

The analysis finds that black and Hispanic college graduates are far more likely to have attended for-profit colleges and less likely to have attended four-year public or nonprofit institutions. When gender is added to the analysis, the results are even more stark. White men, for example, earn bachelor’s degrees in engineering at roughly six times the rate of Hispanic women and more than 11 times the rate of black women.

Taken together, these disparities mean that there are substantial educational inequities in higher education even among students who finish their program of study.

There are a number of policies that can help to mitigate the completion disparities. Among them:

  • Include racial equity measures in federal accountability structures
  • Create a federal student-level data system to track outcomes by race
  • Use state-level data to monitor equity gaps in completion
  • Learn from schools that are already serving their students well

To read the issue brief, “The Neglected College Race Gap: Racial Disparities Among College Completers,” click here.

For more information or to speak to an expert, contact Kyle Epstein at [email protected] or 202.481.8137.