The Status of Black Students at Community Colleges in the United States

A new report from the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies in Washington, D.C., finds that while Black students are disproportionately represented at community colleges, the system does not produce equitable outcomes.

Some key findings of the study are:

    • Despite the historic lure to community colleges during previous recessions, Black student enrollment has steadily declined over time and has worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic. From Fall 2019 to Fall 2021, enrollment fell 18 percent for all Black students and 23.5 percent and 15 percent for Black men and Black women, respectively.
    • Black community college students experience the lowest graduation rates when compared to their peers of other races and ethnicities. The gap between Black and White graduation rates more than doubled from four percentage points in 2007 to 11 percentage points in 2020, the latest year data is available.
    • The typical Black community college graduate earns $20,000 less per year than their classmates. White households with workers who hold a high school diploma earn $2,000 more than Black community college graduates.
    • Over two-thirds (67 percent) of Black students borrowed money to pay for community college. Black community college graduates owe 123 percent of the original amount they borrowed 12 years after beginning their community college journeys.

The full report, The State of Black Students at Community Colleges, may be downloaded here.

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