Graduation-Rate Gaps Persist Within Colleges, But Some Campuses Build Success for All Student Groups

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College-completion gaps among individual institutions lurk under national averages, according to two new Ed Trust reports that probe disaggregated six-year graduation rates at hundreds of the nation’s public and private institutions.

“Big Gaps, Small Gaps: Some Colleges and Universities Do Better Than Others in Graduating African-American Students” 

“Big Gaps, Small Gaps: Some Colleges and Universities Do Better Than Others in Graduating Hispanic Students”

Ed Trust’s analysis finds yawning gaps between white students and students of color at many colleges and universities. Consider this: Nationwide, 60 percent of whites but just 40 percent of African Americans and 49 percent of Latinos who start college earn bachelor’s degrees six years later.

Drawing on data from College Results Online—a Web tool that presents college-graduation rates by race, ethnicity, and gender—the reports flag institutions with small gaps and others that don’t graduate a fair share of students of color.

For example, compare the grad rates of Brooklyn College with those of the University of California, Riverside—universities with similar types of students, similar missions, similar size campuses, and similar spending per student. At Riverside, the graduation rates for Latino and white students alike are above 60 percent. At Brooklyn College, however, more than half of white students graduate within six years, while fewer than one-third of Hispanic students attain a degree within the same time frame.

At nearly two-thirds of the colleges and universities in the study, fewer than half the black students emerge with a degree. And more than 60 percent of the public institutions studied graduate fewer than half their Latino students in six years. At Wayne State University in Detroit, for example, fewer than one in ten African Americans graduate within six years—one-fourth of the success rate for whites.

Yet other institutions with similar student bodies are graduating students of color at rates similar to those of white students. These small-gap schools include Old Dominion University in Virginia, where African Americans make up almost a quarter of student enrollment and have long graduated at rates matching white students’—and topping the national average for blacks. At Florida International University, where nearly two-thirds of all students are Hispanic, completion rates for this group have outpaced those among white students for seven consecutive years. 

Colleges and universities that put success first can make it happen for all students, the reports suggest. Read more about the findings in the Press Room.