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The Campaign for College Opportunity today will release its “The State of Higher Education in California: Black Report,” which examines how the state’s 2.16 million Black residents (6 percent of California’s population) are faring in higher education compared with other racial/ethnic groups.

California is home to the nation’s fifth largest Black population, and although Black students today are more likely to graduate from high school and college than a decade ago, the report notes that persistent opportunity gaps exist. According to the research, Black high school students are less likely to graduate from high school than students of other racial/ethnic groups and to have completed the college preparatory curriculum needed for admission to the University of California and California State University systems compared to other major racial/ethnic groups (White, Latinos, Asians).

Black students that do make it to college are the most likely to be placed into pre-college level coursework, the least likely to graduate from college, and the most likely to enroll in for-profit colleges some of which have traditionally poor rates of student success, high tuition costs and student debt levels.

These findings are a result of funding, policy and institutional weaknesses rather than individual student dedication, says the report. Additionally, inadequate high school preparation, a broken college remedial education system, and significant funding cuts to the state’s public colleges and universities are playing a major role in the ability of Black students to both enroll in and complete college.

The report calls for a concerted, strategic effort to produce better educational outcomes for Black students including a new statewide plan for California higher education, a redesign of pre- college level courses, re-enrollment of adults with some college but no degree, and allowing public universities to use race/ethnicity as one of many considerations in their admissions process. Other key findings in the report include:

  • Only 23 percent of working-age Blacks in California have bachelor’s degrees, compared to 42 percent of their White counterparts.

  • One-third of Black adults aged 25-64 attended college but earned no degree.

Black undergraduates are underrepresented at four-year public and private, nonprofit universities and overrepresented at California Community Colleges and for-profit colleges.

  • Only 37 percent of Black students who started at the California State University system as freshman will complete their studies after six years.

  • At least 2/3 of Black applicants were denied admission to six of the University of California’s nine undergraduate campuses.