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Minority Postsecondary Enrollment Increases Significantly in 25 Years

September 21, 2005

Over the past 25 years, the percentage of racial/ethnic minority students (African Americans, Hispanics, Asian/Pacific Islanders, and American Indian/Alaska Natives) enrolled in degree-granting institutions has increased significantly, from 16 percent of the total population in 1976 to 31 percent in 2002. Projections indicate that by 2015, postsecondary enrollments will increase 23 percent for African Americans and 73 percent for Hispanics, compared with 5 percent for whites.

Two recent reports—Status and Trends in the Education of American Indians and Alaska Natives from the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics and How Latino Students Pay for College: Patterns of Financial Aid in 2003-04 coauthored by Excelencia in Education and the Institute for Higher Education Policy—offer new insight into the educational experiences and outcomes of the increasing population of American Indians/Alaska Native and Latino college students. 

According to the NCES report on the education trends of American Indians and Alaska Natives:

  • American Indian/Alaska Native students enrolled in degree-granting institutions more than doubled between 1976 and 2002; by the mid 1990s, enrollment in four-year institutions surpassed enrollment in two-year institutions.

  • More than half (56 percent) of American Indian/Alaska Native students received financial aid, with an average award of $8,300.

  • Despite increases in enrollment and the number of degrees conferred on American Indians/Alaska Natives, only 11 percent of likely postsecondary education participants received a bachelor’s degree in 2002, compared with 31 percent for the total population. 


Excelencia in Education and the Institute for Higher Education Policy have produced a brief that profiles Latino undergraduates and pays specific attention to Latino undergraduates' participation in financial aid programs. Major findings include:

  • In 2003-04, eight out of 10 Latino undergraduates applied for financial aid and six out of 10 received some form of financial aid. African American and American Indian students were the only racial/ethnic group that applied for aid at higher rates.

  • Compared to any racial/ethnic group, Latinos received the lowest average aid award ($6,250); this trend has not changed since 1995-96.

  • Half of Latinos received grants in 2003-04 compared with the 30 percent who took out loans; however, the average loan amount borrowed ($5,620) was higher than the average grant amount ($3,810).
 

For additional publications and resources on access and student demographics, visit the NACUBO Research Web pages.