Sharp Drop in Black Enrollments at Public Colleges and Universities in Illinois

The Illinois Board of Higher Education has reported that the number of African-American students enrolled at public colleges and universities in Illinois has fallen nearly 25.9 percent during the five-year period from 2013 to 2017.

The decline in Black students was especially prominent in Illinois’ community colleges, which saw drops of about 30 percent. At public Illinois universities, the drop-off among African-American undergraduates was 14 percent.

Blacks make up 14.6 percent of the state’s population. But African Americans are just 6 percent of the undergraduate students at the flagship campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign.

While enrollments of Black students have dropped significant in the 2013-to-2017 period, enrollments increased 6 percent for Hispanic students, 1.9 percent for Asian students, and 5.1 percent among all other underrepresented groups including Native Americans, Pacific Islanders, and disabled individuals.

The report also found that among the working-age, adult population in Illinois, only 30.7 percent of Black people had completed at least a two-year associate degree program compared to 50.3 percent of Whites. Additionally, the report found a racial disparity among high school graduates with a 75 percent graduation rate among African-Americans compared to the statewide rate of 85.4 percent.

To combat these racial inequities, the report offered some general recommendations such as increasing funding for programs that target underrepresented student groups and offering more academic and financial counseling for those groups in order to help those students complete coursework on a full-time basis in four years.

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