New Data on the Racial Gap in College Graduation Rates

The U.S. Department of Education recently released data on the success rate of the cohort of students who entered higher education in the fall of 2003. For all students who enrolled in any type of postsecondary educational institution in 2003, 36.4 percent of whites earned a bachelor’s degree by 2009. This was more than double the rate for blacks. Only 16.7 percent of blacks who entered postsecondary education in 2003 earned a bachelor’s degree by 2009. Another 10.2 percent of whites and 7.6 percent of blacks had earned two-year associate’s degree by 2009.

If we look only at students who entered public, four-year institutions in 2003, 62.0 percent of whites went on to earn a bachelor’s degree by 2009. For blacks, 46.7 percent of all students who entered four-year institutions in 2003 were awarded a bachelor’s degree by 2009.

At private, four-year institutions, 70.3 percent of whites who matriculated in 2003 went on to earn a bachelor’s degree by 2009. For blacks at four-year, private colleges and universities, 45.6 percent of all students who entered in 2003 earned a bachelor’s degree by 2009.

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