Social Exclusion: The State of State U for Black Students

Social Exclusion: The State of State U for Black Students

Although the share of students of color among students at public colleges and universities increased from 16.9 percent in 1980 to 41.4 percent in 2015, African Americans continue to be underrepresented at selective flagship institutions, a report from Demos finds. The report, Social Exclusion: The State of State U for Black Students (28 pages, PDF), found that while the largest percentage-point differences between the share of African Americans among a state's high school graduates and among students enrolled at that state's flagship university were in the Deep South, many flagship institutions in the Northeast and Midwest also enrolled only a fraction of African-American high school graduates in their states. Indeed, at many elite public universities, the percentage of African-American students has fallen significantly since 1996. What's more, public research institutions that receive the most public funding per student are enrolling a disproportionate number of white and wealthy students, the report notes, while historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and other public colleges receive less funding — a dynamic that helps perpetuate the racial wealth gap at every level of educational attainment. Funded by the Joyce Foundation, the report also found that African Americans who do attend elite universities often experience social exclusion based on negative stereotypes. To ensure equity and opportunity, the report calls on policy makers to reform the funding formulas for public universities in their states, invest more taxpayer money in need-based financial aid programs and equitable free-college programs, and allocate more funding to support services; and on institutional leaders to refine their recruitment and admissions processes, sharpen their focus on need-based financial aid, and empower students of color to organize around issues that affect them. 

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