Latinx Americans are only half as likely to attain a college degree as non-Hispanic white adults, and Black Americans are two-thirds as likely, according to a new report by The Education Trust. Both Black and Latinx adults are less likely to hold a college degree in 2018 than white adults were in 1990.
Hoping to shed light on the trends and regions where improvement is most needed, researchers used the latest U.S. Census data to explore not only Black and Latinx degree attainment but also how that has changed since 2000 and the differences in attainment rates among Black, Latinx, and white adults. As of 2016, just 22.6 percent of Latinx Americans—the nation’s largest and fastest-growing ethnic minority—held a two-year college degree or higher, compared with more than 30 percent of Black American adults and 47.1 percent of white adults.
“For us, it was surprising just how low the Latino degree attainment numbers are and how significant the gaps are in certain states,” Andrew Howard Nichols, senior director of higher education research and data analytics at The Education Trust and co-author of the report, told The Hechinger Report. For example, in California, where Latinx Americans make up 36 percent of the population, only 18 percent of Latinx Californians obtained a college degree, compared with 53 percent of white Californians.
Pointing to the individual and broader societal benefits associated with college degree attainment, the researchers call on lawmakers to create policies that will reduce these racial gaps. Nichols asserts that “if state leaders are serious about racial equity and reaching their goals to increase the number of college-educated residents in their states, they need to be honest about what their data are telling them about Black, Latino, and other racial or ethnic groups.”