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Center for American Progress

RELEASE: Top Public Universities Close Doors to Black and Latino Students, New CAP Analysis Reveals
Press Release

RELEASE: Top Public Universities Close Doors to Black and Latino Students, New CAP Analysis Reveals

Washington, D.C. – African American and Latino students are dramatically underrepresented at the nation’s most selective public research universities, and as many as 193,000 black and Latino students would have enrolled at those colleges in the fall of 2014 were their representation proportional, a new report from the Center for American Progress shows. As a result, this new state-by-state analysis illustrates that across the country, black and Latino students are significantly overrepresented at less-selective public four-year colleges, as well as community colleges, compared with their white and Asian peers.

“The college a student attends matters because the returns from higher education are not equal across institutions,” said Elizabeth Baylor, Director of Postsecondary Education at CAP. “Because America’s most elite public colleges place students on a path for lifelong success, it is imperative to address inequities in the nation’s higher education system by making sure more black and Latino students attend these schools.”

Approximately 9 percent of black students attend top public research universities, while 40 percent attend four-year regional colleges, and a majority of black students—51 percent—attend community and technical colleges. Among Latino students, 12 percent attend top public research universities, 32 percent attend four-year regional colleges, and a majority—56 percent—attend community and technical colleges. The underrepresentation of American Indian and Alaska Native students at elite four-year public colleges is the most significant—with 8 percent of students attending those colleges, while 31 percent attend four-year regional colleges and 61 percent attend community and technical colleges.

At the country’s top public research universities, the average graduation rate is nearly double those at less-selective public colleges, and students who attend public four-year colleges are more likely to graduate than those who attend community colleges. As CAP’s analysis explains, the differences in institutional completion rates translate into massive national gaps in college attainment: Approximately 21 percent of black young adults and 16 percent of Latino young adults have bachelor’s degrees, far below the 43 percent level of white young adults and the 63 percent level of Asian young adults.

As CAP’s analysis shows, the proportional underenrollment of black and Latino students at top public colleges translates into hundreds of thousands of students who do not end up at one of these schools. If 18 percent of black and Latino students enrolled at top research universities—the same share as students of all races and ethnicities—an estimated 193,134 more black and Latino students would have attended this type of institution in the fall of 2014.

The CAP report also reveals that North Carolina, Tennessee, Massachusetts, Arkansas, and Texas have the lowest share of black students enrolled at their elite public universities, while New York, Massachusetts, California, New Jersey, and Texas have the lowest share of Latino students enrolled at that type of school.

Click here to read Closed Doors: Black and Latino Students Are Excluded from Top Public Universities by Elizabeth Baylor.

For more information or to speak with an expert, contact Allison Preiss at [email protected] or 202.478.6331.