The Serious Racial Disparity in College Retention Rates

There are nearly 3 million African Americans enrolled in higher education in the United States. But enrolling students is one thing and graduating them is another.

New data from the U.S. Census Bureau illustrates the problem. In October 2009 there were 880,000 African Americans enrolled as freshmen in college. There were 686,000 sophomores. There were 566,000 juniors and only 278,000 seniors. The number of seniors was 68 percent lower than the number of freshmen. This shows a very large attrition rate of black students who start college but do not finish.

For whites there were 3,144,000 college freshmen in 2009. There were 2,715,000 white sophomores and 2,528,000 white juniors. That year there were 1,865,000 white seniors. There were 41 percent fewer white seniors than white freshmen.