For Tens of Thousands of Black Teenage Mothers, a College Education Is Only a Distant Dream

The cost of higher education and the lack of adequate financial aid make it difficult for many young Americans to even consider a college education. Having a baby as a teenager also makes it extremely difficult to juggle college and family responsibilities, and to meet the financial obligations to provide for one’s child and also to pay for college.

Black women in their teenage years have made tremendous progress in lowering their birth rates. But a large racial gap remains.

New data from the National Center for Health Statistics shows a dramatic drop in births by black teenagers. In 1991 the fertility rate shows that there were 86.1 births for every 1,000 black teenage women between the ages of 15 and 17. By 2005 there were only 34.9 births for every 1,000 black teenage women in this age group. Thus, the black teenage fertility rate for this age group has been cut by more than one half in the past 15 years. However, black women in this age group remain three times as likely as their white peers to give birth.

For blacks in the 18 to 19 age group, the fertility rate in 1991 was 162.2 per 1,000 women. In 2005 the fertility rate dropped to 102.9 for every 1,000 black women in this age group. Despite this major drop in fertility rates among blacks ages 18 and 19, blacks in this age group are still twice as likely as similarly aged whites to give birth.

For the vast majority of black teenage mothers, a college education is not considered in the realm of possibilities.