ACE Releases 2024 Update to Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education Project
May 21, 2024

ACE released its Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education: 2024 Status Report today. The report highlights updated data that show a continued increase in diversity but significant disparities in attainment levels among underrepresented groups by race and ethnicity.

As the diversity of the U.S. population increased, more Hispanic and Latino, Black and African American students have enrolled in undergraduate programs over the last 20 years, according to data outlined in the report. However, completion rates have not risen accordingly—the number of Hispanic or Latino students earning bachelor’s degrees rose about 10 percent from 2002 to 2022, while the rates for white and Asian students grew even faster, widening the existing gaps.

Black or African American students consistently had lower completion rates than those of any other racial and ethnic group. Black or African American, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, Hispanic or Latino, and American Indian or Alaska Native students earned a larger share of associate degrees and certificates, while bachelor’s degrees are mainly earned by Asian, White, and multiracial students.

“Despite some progress, racial disparities are still alarmingly high, especially in light of the Supreme Court’s decision to end race-conscious admissions,” stated Ted Mitchell, the president of ACE. “This report is timely for everyone involved in higher education—administrators, researchers, policymakers. It allows us to examine the current state of race and ethnicity in higher education and strive to bridge these equity gaps.”

The data also reveal disparities in how students pay for college, with Black or African American undergraduate students borrowing at the highest rates across all sectors and income groups (49.7 percent). Hispanic or Latino and Asian students borrowed at lower-than-average rates. However, Asian students borrowed the highest amount per borrower when including parent loans.

Additionally, the report provides a look at the diversity of faculty and staff across race and ethnicity. In 2021, 69.4 percent of all full-time faculty and 56.2 percent of newly hired full-time faculty were White, compared to Black or African American full-time faculty (6.1 percent) and new full-time faculty (9.3 percent).

“This report is just one of the ways ACE is working to democratize data by creating accessible and actionable insights that empower evidence-inspired decision-making across the postsecondary landscape,” said Hironao Okahana, assistant vice president and executive director of ACE’s Education Futures Lab. “This work bolsters our engagement in the data ecosystem, such as our partnership with the UCLA School of Education and Information Studies, to strengthen and lead the Higher Education Research Institute (HERI ) and the recently announced Global Data Consortium Initiative.”

This status report builds on the findings from preceding publications in the Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education series. It presents 201 indicators drawn from eight data sources, most of which come from the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Census Bureau. The indicators present a snapshot of the most recent publicly available data, while others depict data over time. 

The Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education: 2024 Status Report was made possible through the generous support of the Mellon Foundation. The accompanying website was generously supported by the Mellon Foundation and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

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cover of the 2024 Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education report