Young Adults, College Paths and Race: What the Data Say

Posted March 13, 2018, By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

Racial and ethnic disparities exist along the pathway to a college degree.

In 2016, 13% of 18- to 24-year-olds were not working and had no degree beyond high school. This rate has steadily declined since 2011, while the rate of young adults attending or completing college — 49% in 2016 — is on the rise.

Despite both statistics moving in the right direction, deep racial and ethnic disparities persist along the pathway to a college degree. For example: In 2016, just 27% of young adults who identified as American Indian were enrolled in college or had graduated college. This same statistic jumps to 76% for young adults who identified as Asian and Pacific Islander.

Disparities by race for youth ages 18 to 24 who are enrolled in or completed college

As America continues to grow increasingly diverse, it is critical that all children and young adults — regardless of their demographic details — have an opportunity to access the skills and education needed to thrive in tomorrow's employment landscape.

Access more education data on the KIDS COUNT Data Center:

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