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Status and Trends in the Education of Racial and Ethnic Minorities
NCES 2010-015
July 2010

Indicator 27. Educational Attainment

Educational attainment contributes to future earnings and employment opportunities. In 2008, about 87 percent of U.S. adults over the age of 25 had completed at least high school or the equivalent. This was a 5 percentage point increase from 1996. Similarly, in 2008, about 29 percent of U.S. adults over the age of 25 had at least a bachelor's degree, an increase of 6 percentage points from 1996.

Overall, Hispanic adults in the United States had lower rates of high school attainment than adults of other racial/ethnic groups. In 2008, about 62 percent of Hispanic adults over the age of 25 had completed at least high school or the equivalent, while 92 percent of Whites, 89 percent of Asians/Pacific Islanders, 83 percent of Blacks, and 78 percent of American Indian/Alaska Natives had done so. Between 1996 and 2008, the percentage of adults who had completed at least high school increased for each race/ethnicity, and some gaps between racial/ethnic groups decreased. For example, the percentage of adults who had completed at least high school increased by 9 percentage points each for Blacks and Hispanics, compared with an increase of 5 percentage points each for Whites and Asians/Pacific Islanders.

In 2008, in terms of college education, 13 percent of Hispanic adults and 15 percent of American Indian/Alaska Native adults had obtained at least a bachelor's degree; 52 percent of Asians/Pacific Islanders, 33 percent of Whites, and 20 percent of Blacks had done so. Although bachelor's degree attainment rates for all racial/ethnic groups have increased over the past 12 years, gaps are not narrowing and, in some cases, they are widening. For example, between 1996 and 2008, the percentage of adults who had at least a bachelor's degree increased by 10 percentage points for Asians/Pacific Islanders, by 7 percentage points for Whites, by 6 percentage points for Blacks, and by 4 percentage points each for Hispanics and American Indians/Alaska Natives.

In 2007, a higher percentage of White and Black adults (ages 25 to 29) that were born in the United States (refers to the 50 states and District of Columbia) had at least a bachelor's degree (45 and 24 percent, respectively) than did White and Black adults in this age group that were born outside of the United States (32 and 16 percent, respectively). For Hispanics and Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders, a higher percentage of adults (ages 25 to 29) born in the United States had at least a bachelor's degree (16 and 24 percent, respectively), than did adults born outside the United States (8 and 11 percent, respectively).

View Table View Figure 27
View Table View Table 27a

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Snapshot of Hispanic and Asian Subgroups: Educational Attainment

In the United States, 11 percent of Hispanic adults between the ages of 25 and 29 had at least a bachelor's degree (compared with 27 percent of the total population, 33 percent of Whites, and 17 percent of Blacks in that age group) in 2008. However, there was variation among the different Hispanic subgroups. Cubans and South Americans had the highest rates of college attainment (30 and 28 percent, respectively), which were not measurably different from the average rate for the United States. Among the Hispanic subgroups, Salvadorans and Mexicans generally had the lowest rates of college attainment at 8 percent each. Among the Hispanic subgroups, Mexican Americans, Cubans, Salvadorans, other Central Americans and South Americans who were born in the United States (meaning within the 50 states and the District of Columbia) had higher rates of college attainment than adults of those subgroups born outside the United States. For example, within the Cuban subgroup, those who were born in the United States had a college attainment rate of 38 percent, while those who were born outside the United States had a rate of 18 percent.

Sixty percent of Asian adults ages 25 to 29 had at least a bachelor's degree in 2008. Among Asian subgroups, Asian Indians had the highest percentage of adults with at least a bachelor's degree (80 percent), while the Other Asian category generally had the lowest percentage (36 percent). The percentage of Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders who had completed college (18 percent) was lower than the percentages for each of the Asian subgroups and lower than the U.S. average. U.S.-born members of the Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese subgroups had higher college attainment rates than members of the same subgroups that were born outside the United States. For example, within the Vietnamese subgroup, 57 percent of those who were born in the United States had a college degree, compared to 39 percent of those who were born outside the United States.

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National Center for Education Statistics - http://nces.ed.gov
U.S. Department of Education