Small Improvement in African-American College Graduation Rates, But the Large Racial Gap Persists

New data from the Department of Education shows that the nationwide college graduation rate for African Americans stands at an appallingly low rate of 43 percent. The graduation rate is computed by taking all students who enroll at a given institution and determining how many of these students received a bachelor’s degree from the same institution within a six-year period.

When we break the figures down by gender, we see that the graduation rate for black women is 47 percent. For black men, the rate is a very low 36 percent.

But the good news is that the African-American college graduation rate is on the rise for both men and women. In 1990 the college graduation rate for black women was 34 percent. It has now increased 13 percentage points in the past 16 years. For black men, the college graduation rate in 1990 was 28 percent. Over the past 16 years the graduation rate for black men has increased by 8 percentage points.

Despite the increase in black student college graduation rates, the black-white graduation rate gap remains virtually unchanged. This year the white student college graduation rate is 63 percent. This is 20 percentage points higher than the rate for blacks.