Published Online: October 3, 2001
Published in Print: October 3, 2001, as Colleges

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Minorities and College

African-American students continue to trail their white peers in high school completion rates and college enrollment, according to a recent report from the American Council on Education.

The "18th Annual Status Report on Minorities in Higher Education," released Sept. 17 by the Washington-based organization, presents the latest data on the progress of black, Hispanic, and American Indian students in postsecondary education.

Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the U.S. Department of Education, and other agencies, the annual study summarizes rates of high school completion and college participation.

Highlights of the report show that:

  • Seventy-three percent of African-Americans ages 18 to 24 had completed high school as of 1998, the latest year for which data were available. That represents a 1 percent decrease from the previous year. Hispanics trailed whites in high school completion by more than 20 percentage points, and blacks lagged behind whites by more than 13 percentage points for the year.
  • Despite progress over the past decade, blacks in 1998 continued to trail whites in the number of 25- to 29-year-olds who had completed four or more years of college. Fifteen percent of blacks in that age group had completed four or more years of college, compared with 28 percent of whites.
  • College enrollment among minority students increased by 3.2 percent in 1998. Hispanics, African-Americans, Asian-Americans, and American-Indians all experienced enrollment increases at two- and four-year institutions from 1997 to 1998. Hispanics posted a 4 percent enrollment increase at four-year colleges and universities, the largest increase among those groups.
  • The six-year graduation rate for African-American students at NCAA Division I schools dropped from 40 percent in 1997 to 37 percent in 1998. Minority students earned more than 20 percent of all bachelor's degrees in 1998, up very slightly from the previous year and a gain of almost 4 percentage points since 1994. But minority students were underrepresented in degree awards compared with their enrollment levels. Such students made up 28 percent of undergraduates enrolled in higher education in 1998.

The report is available for $28.45 from the American Council on Education's publications department by calling (301) 604-9073.

—John Gehring jgehring@epe.org

Vol. 21, Issue 5, Page 10

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