The Persisting Black-White Family Income Gap Is a Major Barrier to Increased Educational Opportunities for African Americans

One of the major barriers to increasing black enrollments in higher education is money. Tuition and fees at some private colleges are now close to $50,000 annually. Costs of attending state-operated higher educational institutions have skyrocketed in recent years.

On top of this is the fact that at both the federal and state level, financial aid is being increasingly targeted toward middle-class families while assistance to low-income families is scaled back.

The cost of higher education and the availability of student financial aid are especially important to college-bound blacks. New data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows the severity of the problem.

In 2006 white families in the United States had a median income of $52,423. For black families, the median income was $31,969. Thus the average black family in the United States had an income that was 61 percent of the income of the average white family. Furthermore, the black-white family income gap has remained virtually unchanged for the past 40 years!

At the high end of the income pyramid where college costs become more affordable, we find that 21.6 percent of all white families in the United States have incomes of more than $100,000. For blacks, only 9.1 percent of all families have incomes above $100,000.