Higher Education Enrollment and Completion

Among the Intermountain West states, Latinos and African-Americans in Nevada are most under-represented in higher education enrollment and completion.

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  • Based on 2012 data, Latinos were under-represented in fall enrollment in 2- and 4-year public colleges throughout the Intermountain West. Nevada and Arizona had the highest rates of under-representation of Latinos, meaning that the percentage of Latinos enrolling in college is far less than the Latino college age population. In Nevada, Latinos accounted for 35 percent of the college bound 18-24 year old population.  But only 20 percent of students enrolled in 2- and 4- year public colleges were Latino, representing a 15 point gap.

  • African-Americans were under-represented in fall enrollment in 2- and 4-year public colleges throughout the Intermountain West. (Note: Data was not available for New Mexico and Utah). Nevada had the highest rate of under-representation of African-Americans. In Nevada, African-Americans accounted for 11 percent of the college bound 18-24 year old population, but only 7 percent of enrolled students at 2- and 4- year public colleges, representing a 4 point gap.

  • In contrast, White enrollment across the Intermountain West was either equal to the share of the population or slightly over-represented. The only exception was Utah in which 77 percent of the 18-24 year old college age population is White, but only 73 percent of the enrolled students are White.

  • Another key indicator in higher education is the ethnic and racial breakdown of students receiving degrees. Throughout the region, the percentage of degrees awarded to Latinos is less than the percentage of Latinos in the community. Nevada had the largest gap in the region for Latino students. While Latinos accounted for 35 percent of the college bound 18-24 year old population, they represented only 13 percent of awarded degrees, reflecting a 22 point gap.

  • Similarly, across the Intermountain West region, the percentage of degrees awarded to African-Americans is less than the percentage of African-Americans in the community. Nevada had the largest gap in the region for African-American students. (Note: Data was not available for New Mexico and Utah). For example, in Nevada, African-Americans accounted for 11 percent of the college bound 18-24 year old population, but only 5 percent of awarded degrees, representing a 6 point gap.

  • In contrast, the percentage of degrees awarded to White students was greater than the group’s share of the college age 18-24 year old population.  The gap in Nevada was the biggest:  Whites represent 42 percent of the college age population, but 60 percent of the graduates.

    Together these figures reveal a troubling picture. Significant numbers of African-Americans and Latinos are not enrolling in 2- and 4- year public universities and do not seem to be graduating.  What are the characteristics of effective programs that help encourage minority students pursue higher education?  What are the characteristics of effective programs that help retain and graduate minority students?

    One nationally recognized program that has demonstrated success in retaining and graduating low-income and minority students is Accelerated Study in Associated Programs (ASAP).  Read more about it in our recent report Building the Infrastructure Opportunity for Latinos in the Intermountain West or view some of the program results here.

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