The Nationwide Racial Gap in College Graduation Rates

graduateThe U.S. Department of Education recently published a new report that included the graduation rates of students who entered college in 2008 and earned their degrees within six years. For all students who enrolled in bachelor’s degree programs at four-year institutions in 2008, 59.6 percent earned their degrees by 2014.

But there were wide discrepancies when we compare the graduation rates of African Americans with those of other racial and ethnic groups. In fact, Blacks had the lowest graduation rate of any racial or ethnic group. Only 40.9 percent of all Black students who entered bachelor’s degree programs at four-year institutions in 2008 earned their degree within six years.

The Black student college graduation rate of 40.9 percent was 22.3 percentage points lower than the rate for Whites and 30.3 percentage points below the rate for Asian Americans. The Black student graduation rate trailed the rates for Hispanics by 12.6 percentage points.

For Black and African American students there was a 9.5 percentage point gap in graduation rates in favor of women. Nearly 45 percent of Black women earned their degrees within six years compared to just over 35 percent of Black men. This was the highest gender gap for any racial or ethnic group.

For students who entered two-year colleges in 2011, 22.9 percent of Black students earned an associate’s degree within three years. For Whites, the graduation rate was 32.1 percent. When we break down the Black rates by gender, we find that 25.1 of Black women and only 19.8 percent of Black men earned associate’s degrees within three years.

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