Two-thirds of Black Adults have gone to college but only half left with a degree

Los Angeles, CA - Today, The Campaign for College Opportunity released “The State of Higher Education for Black Californians,” a landmark report that reveals progress the state is making in better preparing Black students for college even while major inequities in college access and completion persist at our community colleges and universities.

California is home to 2.2 million Black residents and has long benefited from significant contributions by Black Californians who have made the state more equitable, prosperous, and entrepreneurial. However, growing racial equity gaps in education mean that too many talented Black students do not earn the degrees and credentials they need to be upwardly mobile and that the state needs for its economy.

The good news is that a record number of Black 19-year-olds - nearly 90 percent - have a high school diploma, more Black students are prepared for college, and many more are enrolling in college than in years past. There are currently over 204,000 Black undergraduate students in California, the majority (84 percent) of whom are enrolled in California’s public colleges or universities. Two-thirds of Black adults have gone to college and for Black students who attend the University of California (UC), 75% will graduate in six years.

The bad news is that nearly half of Black adults left college without a degree and across all segments of higher education, colleges and universities graduate Black students at lower rates than White students.

The report reveals the following ways in which California is systematically losing Black talent:

* California high schools graduate Black students at lower rates than all other racial/ethnic groups, and do not prepare two out of three Black high school graduates for college.

* Black students are overrepresented at private, for-profit colleges and universities where only seven percent will earn a bachelor’s degree after six years.

* The California State University (CSU) only graduates 9% of Black freshmen after four years and less than half (43%) in six years.

* And while the UC has the best record in college completion for Black undergraduates, two few Black students attend the UC and there is a 19-percentage point gap in four-year graduation rates between Black freshmen (49%) and White freshmen (68%).

“Our state and college leaders need to do more than speak about the importance of diversity and equality; they need to urgently act to eliminate the barriers that stand in the way of our Black students’ ability to access, afford, and complete college,” said Michele Siqueiros, president of the Campaign for College Opportunity. “Black Californians are an essential force in our economy, our communities, and our identity. We cannot continue to squander their talent.”

The report details specific recommendations that California’s elected, and college and university leaders should enact to ensure more Black Californians complete college, including:

* Set a specific statewide college attainment goal for Black students with the intention of closing persistent college preparation, access, and completion gaps.

* Establish a statewide strategy targeted toward supporting the return of Black adults with some college but no degree, so they can complete their education.

* Increase enrollment capacity at the CSU and UC.

* Require strong implementation of community college reforms such as placing students into college-level English and math, ensuring strong transfer and degree pathways, and utilizing the new student success funding formula to support the success of Black students.

* Provide state financial aid that helps low-income and middle-income students afford the full cost of college – not just tuition.

* Create a welcoming environment on California college campuses and universities that provide Black students with a strong sense of belonging by increasing the number of Black faculty and staff, and ensuring all faculty and staff are committed and have the training to improve Black student success.

* Establish a strong and centralized education data system that will identify trends facing Black students in education and identify solutions to improve outcomes for Black students.

* Provide adequate oversight of for-profit colleges.

"If we truly believe in and celebrate the diversity of our state, then equity has to be at the center of the proposals we make and the outcomes we seek,” said Pamela Haynes, Board Member of the Los Rios Community College District. “Until recently, many accepted the notion that incremental changes were the preferred path. The effects of this notion have had a disproportionate impact on the state’s Black population. We need to implement strategic reforms that will have the best chance to change the trajectory of Black Californians. I support the findings and the recommendations laid out in this Report. They need to be at the center of the dialogue happening within our State House, Legislature and within the walls of Higher Education.”

To view the full report, please click here. To see what leaders are saying about the report, please click here.