New data from the U.S. Department of Education shows racial differences in the amount of time it took bachelor’s degree recipients to receive their degree. The data for those who received their degree in the 2007-08 academic year, shows that the median amount of time for Black students to earn their degrees was 57 months. This means that half of Black students who earned a degree did so before 57 months and half did so after 57 months. For White students the median time was 51 months.
If we look at the average number of months rather than the median, we find the average amount of time for Blacks was 98 months compared to 73.3 months for Whites.
Some 47.5 percent of White students who earned a bachelor’s degree did do in four years or less. For Blacks, only 31 percent of degree earners received their degree in four years or less.
Nearly one quarter of all Black students who earned a bachelor’s degree in the 2007-08 academic year took more than 10 years to complete their degree program. For Whites, 10 percent of all bachelor’s degree recipients took more than 10 years to complete their degree.
Why do Blacks take longer than Whites to earn their degrees? In all probability, money plays a key role. In many cases, Black students must take time off to raise money for college or to fulfill family financial obligations.