College Completion Gap Widens Between Latino, White Students in CA

Suzanne Potter | California News Service

Latino students in California are graduating from college at much lower rates than white students, and the gap has widened over the last four years, according to a new analysis from the nonprofit Excelencia in Education.

The data show in 2021, 22% of Latinos in California age 25 and older have an associate degree or higher, compared with 56% of white adults.

Sarita Brown, co-founder and president of Excelencia in Education, said Latino students are key to meeting the country’s college-attainment goals.

“The growth of the Latino student population is an asset for the country,” Brown asserted. “And the better educated Latino students are, the more fully they will participate in the workforce and civic leadership.”

Overall, both white and Latino students have increased degree attainment since 2018, but white students have made much faster gains. Colleges and universities can boost Latino educational achievement in a variety of ways, including increased financial aid, more outreach to high schools with large Latino populations, and easier pathways to transfer from community college to four-year institutions.

Brown recommended colleges and universities use the data to inform their plans going forward.

“We’re losing ground,” Brown contended. “It’s like running a race. OK, kick in. This is the next mile, you have to bear down because a country’s most precious resource is its human resource. This is a challenge we can meet.”

California schools awarding the highest percentage of associate’s degrees to Latinos include Mount San Antonio College, East Los Angeles College, and Pasadena and Riverside City Colleges. The top schools for Latinos receiving bachelor’s degrees are the California State University campuses in Northridge, Fullerton, Long Beach and Los Angeles.

Support for this reporting was provided by Lumina Foundation.

Nationally the top four schools awarding bachelor’s degrees to Latinos are Florida International University, The University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley, California State University-Northridge and California State University-Fullerton. (Cbl62/Wikimedia Commons)