Divided We Learn

Facts about race and college admission

Political winds may shift, but racial factors in college success statistics don’t

The Trump administration has reversed Obama-era policies encouraging universities to consider race as a factor in admission.

The Justice and Education departments jointly announced this week that they had rescinded guidelines encouraging colleges to racially diversify their campuses. The guidelines are nonbinding but represent the view of the departments, which said in a joint statement that they went “beyond the requirements of the Constitution.”

Opponents of considering race in admission say doing so discriminates against whites.

race and college admission

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  • Forty-two percent of white students aged 18 to 24 were enrolled in college in 2013, compared to 34 percent of black and Hispanic students that age, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
  • Enrollment in the 468 best-funded and most selective four-year institutions is 77 percent white, the Georgetown University Center for Education and the Workforce reports. Enrollment at the 3,250 lowest-funded community colleges and four-year universities is 43 percent black and Hispanic.
  • Larger and larger proportions of nonwhite students go to the least selective institutions with the fewest resources, whose nonwhite enrollment had grown from 31 percent in 1995 to 43 percent by 2009, the last period for which the figures were studied.
  • Nearly a third of black and Hispanic students with high school grade-point averages of 3.5 or better end up at community colleges, compared to 22 percent of white students with the same grades, the Georgetown research found.
  • Seventy-two percent of black students go into debt to pay for their educations, compared to 56 percent of white students, the Education Department reports.
  • Nearly 72 percent of white students finish a four-year degree within six years, compared to 56 percent of Hispanic and 46 percent of black students, the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center says.
  • Thirty-three percent of white Americans 25 and older have at least a bachelor’s degree, compared to 19 percent of blacks and 16 percent of Hispanics, according to the Education Department.

This story about racial factors in college admissions and completion was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education. Sign up for the Hechinger newsletter.

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Jon Marcus, higher-education editor, has written about higher education for the Washington Post, USA Today, Time, the Boston Globe, Washington Monthly, is North America higher-education… See Archive

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