State of Blacks in Higher Education in California

state of blacks in higher ed


December 5, 2013 | Press Release: Report Finds Black College Achievement in California Stagnant and Worsening

The Campaign for College Opportunity today released a report, the second in a new series of research reports The State of Blacks in Higher Education: The Persistent Opportunity Gap, detailing the lack of significant progress in Black higher education, the need for the state’s higher education system to work better for all students and the recommendations to address this gap. The report finds that young Blacks are less educated than previous generations, the gap between Blacks and Whites in California earning a bachelor’s degree or higher has only narrowed by one percentage point in the past decade, and first time Black freshmen and transfer students have the lowest completion rates at all three higher education systems in California – the CSU, UC and California Community Colleges. The state of educational attainment for Blacks in California raises questions about the way our higher education system is organized and whether it equally serves all groups.

California is home to the fifth largest number of Blacks in the nation. In the latest from its new series on the State of Higher Education in California, The Campaign for College Opportunity has found that gaps between Blacks and other ethnic groups in college-going and attainment have remained virtually unchanged for more than a decade, and in some cases, has worsened.

From the start, Black students have limited chances to enroll in college. With the lowest high school graduation rates, and the second-lowest rates of completing the required college preparatory curriculum for the state’s four-year universities, Black students face steep hurdles to reaching their college and career dreams, even though a recent survey by the Public Policy Institute of California found that more than half of Black respondents believe that a college education is “necessary for a person to be successful in today’s work world.”

The State of Blacks in Higher Education in California: The Persistent Opportunity Gap identifies the following key findings:

  • Blacks are slightly overrepresented at California’s community colleges and private for-profit colleges, while being underrepresented at the California State University (CSU) and University of California (UC) systems.
  • In 2012, more Black students in California were enrolled in private, for-profit colleges than in the CSU and UC combined. This trend is troubling because graduation rates range from very low to very high across for-profit colleges and students often incur significant debt to attend these schools.
  • In the last decade, Black enrollment at CSU and UC has remained flat, underscoring the impact the elimination of affirmative action has had on Black students. Today, Black students experience the lowest admission rates to the UC of any racial/ethnic group. In fact, prior to the elimination of affirmative action, 75 percent of Black applicants to the UC were admitted in 1994 compared to 58 percent in 2010.
  • Black students are the most likely to gain some college experience without earning a college degree.
  • Across all three public sectors of higher education— the California Community Colleges, California State University, and University of California—Blacks have the lowest completion rates for both first-time freshmen and transfer students.
  • A smaller share of today’s California Black young adult population (25 to 34 years of age) holds postsecondary degrees than that of Blacks between the ages of 35 and 64.



1. Create a statewide plan for higher education

2. Expand college knowledge

3. Invest in services students need to succeed

4. Fund colleges for both enrollment and success

5. Strengthen financial support options for students

6. Encourage colleges and universities to reach out and re- enroll students who are close to completing a degree

The Campaign for College Opportunity is a broad-based, bipartisan coalition, including business, education and labor leaders that is dedicated to ensuring the next generation of Californians has the opportunity to go to college and succeed. The Campaign works to create an environment of change and lead the state toward effective policy solutions. It is focused upon substantially increasing the number of students attending two- and four-year colleges in California so that we can produce the one million additional college graduates that our state needs.

For more information, visit: