The College Graduation Rates of African American Student Athletes

Last week a JBHE post reported that 66 percent of all students who entered a group of the nation’s largest universities in 2010 earned their degree by 2016. For Blacks at these institutions, only 46 percent earned a bachelor’s degree within six years.

Now we turn our attention to student athletes. These are students who are receiving some degree of athletic financial aid or scholarships. Some 68 percent of all student athletes who enrolled in 2010 graduated within six years. This is only two percentage points higher than the graduation rates for students as a whole. For Black student athletes, 59 percent earned their diplomas within six years. this is 13 percentage points higher than the rate for Black students as a whole.

Past research has shown that as many as two thirds of all students who drop out of college do so for financial reasons. Thus, it appears that athletic scholarships tend to shield student athletes from the financial pressures of the high cost of education. And this is particularly true for Black student athletes.

The numbers are not insignificant. There are more than 10,000 Black men on football scholarships at these large universities. Close to 2,500 Black men and more than 2,000 Black women are on basketball scholarships. More than 4,000 African Americans receive athletic scholarships for track or cross country.

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  1. Student athletes graduate on average 2 percentage points but what about what degrees are they graduating with. Most college athletes graduate with degree that say “General Studies” or just says “Bachelors of Arts” and says nothing else.

    Yes, they are graduating, but with what?

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