National Institute on Aging

Students of Color Are Shortchanged in Higher Education Spending by States

A new report from the Center for American Progress finds that the amount spent per student of color — defined here as Black and Latino students — at public two- and four-year colleges is more than $1,000 less per year than what is spent on their White counterparts. As a result of these spending gaps, public colleges spend approximately $5 billion less educating students of color in one year than they do educating White students.

Most states fund their public colleges in a way that provides more money for elite research institutions over less selective community and four-year colleges. The elite research institutions tend to have a smaller percentage of students of color compared to less selective colleges and universities. The bottom line is that students of color are disproportionately more likely to attend institutions that have lower revenue and government funding per student. This means that those institutions also spend less on education for each student.

This disparity in spending can mean students of color do not receive the same support as other students in a variety of crucial dimensions. These may include less access to counselors, advisers, and tutors, fewer research opportunities, and less access to health services.

The report concludes that “states and the federal government need to be intentional by making larger investments in those colleges that typically have fewer resources to spend on education. Until the doors of opportunity are open to everyone, inequity will persist, and students of color will continue to be shortchanged at every level.”

The full report, Gaps in College Spending Shortchange Students of Color, may be downloaded by clicking here.

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