Most Flagship State Universities Are Showing Great Progress in Improving Their Black Student Graduation Rates

The nation’s flagship state universities educate tens of thousands of black students. So it is indeed good news that at 25 flagship universities with large numbers of black students, the graduation rate has improved at 23 institutions over the past decade. The only exceptions are at the University of Mississippi and the University of Virginia, where the black graduation rate remained the same over the period. Despite no gains over the decade, the University of Virginia maintains the highest black student graduation rate of any of the flagship universities.

Some of the black graduation rate gains have been spectacular. For example, the black student graduation rate at the University of Florida has improved from 45 percent to 71 percent. At the University of Texas, the University of Georgia, and the University of Oklahoma, the black student graduation rate has increased by 20 percentage points or more since 1998.

  The tremendous gains in black student graduation rates at the nation’s flagship state universities are due in part to more rigorous academic standards imposed at many institutions. In short, these institutions are beginning to attract more highly qualified students who are focused on achieving academic success. Undoubtedly, more generous financial aid programs at some flagship institutions are also responsible for higher black student graduation rates.