Those Left Behind: Gaps in College Attainment by Race and Geography

Those Left Behind: Gaps in College Attainment by Race and Geography

Although 39 percent of Americans age 25 and older have an associates' or higher degree, there are large gaps in college attainment rates between rural and urban areas, while high rates in urban communities often mask stark disparities by race and/or ethnicity, a report and interactive map from the Center for American Progress finds. Based on aggregated American Community Survey data from 2013 to 2017, the report, Those Left Behind: Gaps in College Attainment by Race and Geography, examined degree attainment rates in every U.S. county and found that 92 percent of people with bachelor's degrees live in urban or suburban areas, while just 14 percent of the nation's college campuses are located in rural counties, which collectively comprise 97 percent of the country's land area. Yet even in urban areas, where two-thirds of all college campuses are located, historical inequities, inadequate access to high-quality institutions, and migration, among other issues, play a role in limiting postsecondary opportunities for people of color, with urban areas such as New York City, Denver, San Francisco, Boston, Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Chicago having some of the largest racial and ethnic attainment gaps in the country. To help address these disparities, the report recommends that local governments support college campuses and students through subsidies and wraparound services; that states increase and more equitably allocate funding for higher education; and that the federal government implement policies that improve affordability, accessibility, and quality of higher education.

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