Education and Race: By the Numbers

Since the hot topic of the day has been race, I wanted to look at race in a way that was not the normal rhetoric. I wanted to look at something we could absolutely quantify. You cannot quantify opinions or morals because they differ and hold different values for different people. If I was going to write about race, I wanted an unbiased look into it. I wanted to come with facts and stats instead of emotion. Maybe hard data can move the conversation in a positive way, or maybe it will fall by the wayside. I am not here to change the world, I am just here to present facts so that others may go forth and maybe be the change that they want.

As you may have inferred by the title, we are looking at education here. I wanted to look at who was graduating, what their grades were, and where the money was coming from. Before looking at the data, the first thing you will notice is that white people are going to college at a much higher overall number than any other race. But I also want to see what the true rates are. You could have 1 million people in college, but if that number is out of 1 billion (exaggerated for example), that is absolutely a lower rate than 100,000 out of 1 million.

So, without too much babbling on, lets take a look at our first set of data.

Note: All data is from 2010-2011

Degrees awarded by Race

Here is a look at degrees awarded by race, per Institute of Educational Sciences.

Race
Total Number
Percent Distribution
White
552,863
66.3%
Black
113,905
13.7%
Hispanic
112,211
13.5%
Asian/Pacific Islander
44,021
5.3%
American Indian/Alaskan Native
10,337
1.2%

 

We obviously see that white people earned degrees at a an overall total number that is much higher than all other races…combined. My first question will spawn the rest of the data lines we look at. That question is: is this a case of white people having much more access to education or is it a case of there being a large amount of white people? Lets look at the total population that year, per US Census Bureau:

  • White – 223,553,265 people, or 72.4% of the population.
  • Black- 38,929,319, or 12.6 % of the population.
  • American Indian or Alaskan Native – 2,932,248, or 0.9% of the population
  • Asian/Pacific Islander – 15,214,265, or 5.0% of the population.
  • Hispanic – 35,305,818, or 12.5 % of the population.

Comparing population to degrees earned, we can see that Black, Asian/Islander, and American Indian are all earning degrees at a higher percentage than what their total population percentage is. That’s a good thing. White and Hispanic people are earning degrees at a lower percentage than their overall percentage of the population, not as good for them.

We can’t say too much from this info. But it does give us a little bit clearer of a picture on how races are graduating comparatively. With the exception of White, we are graduating races from college at a congruent rate to their population percentage. In the case of white people, their college graduation rates are much below that of other races, when also factoring in total population.

Where is the Money Coming From?

The first data set I want to take a look at is private scholarship funding, per finaid.org.

We are done looking at total number now. I want to look at rates, as we have already seen what population totals are. We know there are a lot of whites, and other races are the monitory. So overall numbers just skew the real data. We want rates as they reflect the real data in a better light. Saying whites get 100 million in funding compared to 10 million for blacks just isn’t a fair number to throw out at this point. Anyways, one the the data.

Race
% Receiving Private Scholarship (of all enrolled students)
Average Amount Received
% of Scholarship Recipients (of total scholarships for all races)
% of Total Funding
% of Student Population
White
6.2%
$2,368
69.3
65.0%
61.8%
Black
4.4%
$2,671
11.2%
11.9%
14.0%
Hispanic
3.5%
$2,269
9.0%
8.1%
14.1%
Asian/Pacific Islander
8.4%
$4,001
5.1%
7.5%
6.6%
American Indian/Alaskan Native
10.8%
$2,935
1.6%
1.9%
0.7%

 

If we refer back to the general population statistics, we can see that the Black students receiving private funding is fairly congruent with overall population. The real winners in private scholarships are American Indians and Asians. They receive a much higher percentage of scholarships (in relation to population) and Asians have access to a significant amount more money on an average scholarship amount basis. Again, the White population sees a large dip across that board. But we need to look at 2 other forms of funding, Pell Grant and Academic Scholarships. Onto the Pell Grants!

Honestly, looking at Pell Grants is sort of an exercise in the obvious, as they are set up for low income and minority students. Minority students receive a very high proportion of these funds, and are the obvious winner in this funding.

 

Race
% of Total Pell Grant Recipients
% of total Pell Grant Funding
White
46.3%
44.2%
Black
23.7%
24.0%
Asian/Pacific Islander
5.5%
6.2%
Hispanic
20.4%
21.5%
American Indian
1.1%
1.1%

The Black and Hispanic population see a huge benefit from Pell Grants. And when we take population into account, that benefit is even greater as they are receiving a ratio of funds way above their ratio of population. Again, White people have way less access to and receive way less funds than minorities. This really comes as to no surprise, as Pell Grants were not really set up to benefit the majority.

Institution Granted Academic Scholarships

This is simply an academic scholarship based on merit. If you make good grades, research, and many other things, you can receive a merit based scholarship. We are going to look at GPA of college students by race. This will give us a good idea if these merit based scholarships are being handed out based on…well, merit.

Race
0.5-0.9 GPA
1.0-1.4 GPA
1.5-1.9 GPA
2.0-2.4 GPA
2.5-2.9 GPA
3.0-3.4 GPA
3.5-4.0 GPA
White
0.9%
2.8%
4.3%
11.7%
17.8%
26.2%
36.3%
Black
2.0%
5.1%
8.2%
18.0%
22.1%
23.5%
21.0%
Hispanic
1.3%
4.2%
7.0%
15.3%
21.1%
25.4%
25.6%
Asian/Pacific Islander
0.7%
2.8%
4.1%
12.1%
19.0%
26.0%
35.3%
American Indian
1.2%
4.1%
10.2%
13.7%
25.8%
20.4%
24.6%
As we can see from this chart, Whites and Asians are more likely to have higher GPAs when compared to other minorities. Looking at this data, we should be able to infer that White and Asian college student populations have access to more merit based funding. Lets look at that data.
Race
% Receiving Merit Based Funding (out of all students sorted by race)
% Receiving Merit Based Funding (out of all races receiving merit based funding)
% of total Merit Based Funding
% of Student Population (out of all races)
White
10.7%
75.5%
75.9%
61.8%
Black
5.9%
9.3%
9.1%
14.0%
Hispanic
4.8%
7.7%
7.0%
14.1%
Asian/Pacific Islander
5.8%
3.9%
4.8%
6.6%
American Indian
7.0%
0.7%
0.5%
0.8%

This is where I noticed the most discrepancy, and it is huge. White people have access to far more merit based funding than any other race. Even above the population ratio. But who has the biggest gripe? Asians. They have grades congruent or above that of the White population, so one would expect them to show a higher ratio in merit based funding. The other races really have no gripe in this issue, as the grades aren’t as high as White and Asian populations.

What to Make of This Data

We cannot make sweeping conclusions about race and higher education, but we do see some patterns.

  • The Asian population absolutely has the largest reason to complain and it is not even close. Asians should receive merit-based funding at a much higher ratio. They make the grades and get less recognition for it. The other races received a lower ratio of merit based funding, but their grades were consistently lower.
  • When looking at ratios of students and population, Black, American Indian, and Asians all have graduation rates at or above normal population ratios.
  • White and Hispanic populations show consistently lower ratios of graduation and ability to obtain funds (outside of Merit based funding for White people) than that of their general population ratios.

There are way more factors and numbers we can look at, but the data presented here are major factors in education. I think we can actually take these numbers and make generalized statements, and then go from there but digging into deeper subsets of data.

 

Despite the highest population, White people graduate less people and have an access to a lower rate of funds than their minority counterparts. However, White people make better grades than all of their minority counter  parts, save for Asians.
The Black population graduates people at a higher rate than their general population ratio. The Black population also has access to a higher ratio of funds, when compared to general population.
Asians have a legitimate gripe. Despite grades slightly above Whites, they have way less access to merit based funding. Asians also graduate a at a higher ration than the general population accounts for.
American Indians have a higher ratio of access and funding than their ratio of population. Across the board. I don’t know why this is, but obviously they are doing something.
Final Thoughts
Like I said, I wanted to present hard data, and there is much more data than what is here, but the conversation has to be started somewhere. You can’t argue that when looking at population, minorities have a better graduation rate and an easier access to funds that pay for college. White people also make better grades, and are rewarded as such. However, the White population doesn’t get the opportunity outside of school that others do, and when in school, seem to either fly or fall face first with little in between. Asians have the real discrimination when we look at everything. They are the one population has an obvious disadvantage in these data sets. But that is only one category, as they excel in everything else.
The big question is, what does this mean? I guess the data is for you to decide and do what you want with.
RaceEducation

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