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Pulling Back the Curtain: Enrollment and Outcomes at Minority Serving Institutions

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Pulling Back the Curtain: Enrollment and Outcomes at Minority Serving Institutions

December 30, 1899

By Lorelle L. Espinosa, Jonathan M. Turk, and Morgan Taylor
 

Minority serving institutions (MSIs) play a critical role in American society, providing access to postsecondary education for millions of students of color who come from disadvantaged backgrounds. As America’s communities become more diverse, and the number of MSIs increases, it is imperative that the higher education field understands how MSIs serve the students they enroll.

The analysis in this first-of-its-kind report uses NSC data to examine how students who started college at an MSI in 2007 moved through higher education. NSC data capture student enrollment profiles and outcomes beyond that which is available through U.S. Department of Education data and the federal graduation rate. In addition to capturing more students than the federal data, NSC data follow students throughout their educational journeys, including when they change institutions. As such, the authors determined that completion rates for MSIs are higher than the federal graduation rate suggests, and in some cases substantially so. The authors conclude that this is especially true for exclusively full-time students, the most comparable student population when looking side by side at NSC completion data and the federal graduation rate.

Among the key findings: 

• NSC data reveal a 43 percent total completion rate for public four-year Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), which increased to nearly 62 percent for students who enrolled exclusively full time, compared to a federal graduation rate of 34.1 percent.

• NSC data show a completion rate of 66.7 percent, compared to a federal graduation rate of 43.9 percent, for exclusively full-time students at private four-year HBCUs; 

• The NSC completion rate for exclusively full-time students at public four-year Predominantly Black Institutions was nearly 52 percent compared to a federal graduation rate of 16.6 percent.

• The completion rate for exclusively full-time students at public two-year Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) was 40.3 percent using NSC data, compared to the federal graduation rate of 25.5 percent. The NSC total completion rate for public four-year HSIs was approximately 50 percent and 74.1 percent for exclusively full-time students, compared to a federal graduation rate of 42.7 percent and; 

• The completion rate for exclusively full-time students at public four-year Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions was nearly 88 percent according to NSC data, and 66.2 percent according to the federal graduation rate.

In addition to the findings of the study, the paper also features essays written by scholars who study MSIs, providing insight into what sets MSIs apart and how they serve students in ways that are unique and exemplary.

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