College Degrees Rise Among Adults, But a Race Gap Still Exists


While more adults in the U.S. are earning at least a two-year degree, the gap that separates whites from African-Americans and Latinos continues to grow.

According to the Hechinger Report, data from the Young Invincibles' Third Annual State Report Cards show an increase in the percentage of adults earning some kind of a college degree. Since 2007, that rate has climbed for white adults from 41 percent to 47 percent, from 23 percent to 28 percent for African-American adults, and from 19 percent to 23 percent of Latino adults.

To summarize, that is a six percent increase for whites, a five percent increase for African-Americans, and a four percent increase for Latinos. Though that may be considered a small difference, it means minorities are still not closing the gap since the economic collapse in 2008, and it "surprised" the report's author.

"I was very surprised to see that the attainment gap grew by over two points," Tom Allison, deputy director of policy and research at the Young Invincibles, told the Hechinger Report. "When you see tuition skyrocket so much, and when you see the spending cuts, that's just going to exacerbate the problem."

The problem Allison referred to was that, in the same timeframe, states have cut funding for their public schools by 21 percent while raising tuition by 28 percent, which seriously alienates applicants from low-income families.

Previous studies have indicated college degree holders earn far more in average mid-career salary than those with just a high school diploma. Georgetown University also released a report that projected 65 percent jobs will require its prospective workers to have some form of post-high-school education.

"When you think about college affordability, student debt and racial equity, you really have to look at state budgets," Allison said. "So many national conversations skip over this vital piece."

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