Looking More Closely at Gaps in College Attainment

Graduating from high school and getting accepted to college is worth celebrating. But that shouldn’t be the ultimate goal: By 2020 about 65 percent of American jobs will require some form of college, an increase from just 28 percent in 1973. We need to be pushing students to not just matriculate, but earn college degrees.

This is particularly urgent for students of color. There are significant gaps in college degree attainment between black and Latino students and their white counterparts—and closing those gaps is critical to addressing our country’s systemic inequities.

That’s why two new briefs from Education Trust are so important. They analyze college degree attainment gaps on both the national and state levels, and powerfully show the extent of the problem. Nationally, black adults are only 2/3rds as likely to hold a college degree as white adults; Latino adults are only half as likely. To put it in historical context, black and Latino adults today are less likely to have a college degree than white adults in 1990. Needless to say, we have to do better.

The briefs also assessed and ranked states on:

  • Black and Latino degree attainment
  • Black and Latino attainment change since 2000
  • Attainment gaps between Black and Latino adults and their White counterparts

This data can help to inform advocates and spur change at the state level.

It won’t be easy, but we have an obligation to face this inequity head-on—and this research can be an important tool. You can read the briefs here.

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