Racial Inequities in the Financing of Graduate Education in the United States

A new report from the U.S. Department of Education looks at graduate education financing today and the trends over the first part of the twenty-first century.

The report notes that in the 2003-04 academic year, African Americans made up 9.8 percent of all students enrolled in graduate educations programs. Spring forward to the 2015-16 academic year, and we find that African Americans made up 14.1 percent of all graduate student enrollments. This is substantial progress.

In the 2015-16 academic year, African Americans paid an average price of $26,000 in tuition for graduate school. This was slightly lower than the average price paid by White graduate students. The average “net price” – total cost minus scholarship grants – was $24,000 for African Americans. The average net price for White graduate students was slightly lower.

Some 79.8 percent of African American graduate students received some sort of financial aid in 2015-16. This was a slightly smaller percentage than was the case 12 years earlier. The percentage of White students receiving financial aid to finance their graduate education increased during the same period.

In the 2015-16 academic year, more than 53 percent of African American graduate students received student loans but no other financial aid. For Whites, only 32.4 percent received only loans. Only 18.1 percent of African American graduate students receive no loans but did receive other financial aid. For Whites, the figure was 41.8 percent. For those who did receive scholarship grants, the average award to Whites was 11 percent higher than the average award to African Americans.

The full report, Trends in Graduate Student Financing: Selected Years, 2003–04 to 2015–16, may be downloaded here.

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