Despite Gains, Minorities Still Lag Whites in College Enrollment

While students of color continue to make significant gains in college enrollment, they still lag white students in terms of the rate at which they pursue a higher education, a new report from the American Council on Education finds.

According to Minorities in Higher Education: Twenty-First Annual Status Report (2003-2004), college enrollment of minorities from 1991 to 2001 rose by nearly 1.5 million students (52 percent), to more than 4.3 million. But African Americans and Hispanics were not enrolled at the same rate as their white peers, with only 40 percent of African Americans and 34 percent of Hispanics attending college, compared to 45 percent of whites.

During the same period, the number of whites between the ages of 18 and 24 fell, from 10.6 million to 10.1 million, while the number of African American and Hispanics in that age group increased. The report, which was funded by the GE and Coca-Cola foundations, concluded that the decline in the number of white college-age students, combined with significant enrollment gains by minorities, was not sufficient to eliminate the large and continuing gap in enrollment rates between whites and minorities.

"These persistent gaps in college participation among whites and minorities tell us that we must be more creative and imaginative in developing strategies and finding additional resources so that more students of color are successful on our campuses," said ACE vice president William B. Harvey, who co-authored the report. "The long-term economic and social well-being of this country is connected to closing this gap."

"ACE Releases Its Annual Status Report on Minorities in Higher Education." American Council on Education Press Release 02/14/2005.