This chapter focuses on indicators of postsecondary participation, looking at the characteristics of students who enroll in postsecondary education, students who receive financial aid, and students who receive different levels of postsecondary degrees. Between 1976 and 2004, minority enrollments increased as a percentage of undergraduate enrollments, from 17 to 32 percent. Since 1976, the percentage of female undergraduate enrollments has surpassed that of male undergraduate enrollments. In 2004, the enrollment gender gap was largest for Black undergraduates (indicator 23.1). Trends in graduate enrollments were similar to those for undergraduate enrollments, with the percentage of enrolled graduate students who were minorities increasing 14 percentage points from 1976 to 2004. As with undergraduate enrollments, female graduate enrollments surpassed male graduate enrollments during this period (indicator 23.2). Looking at the participation rates of 18- to 24-year-olds in colleges and universities, participation rates of Whites, Blacks, and Hispanics increased between 1980 and 2004 and Black, Hispanic, and White females had higher enrollment rates than their male counterparts in 2004 (indicator 23.3).
In the 2003-04 school year, a larger percentage of Black students received financial aid than did White, Hispanic, and Asian/Pacific Islander students, while a lower percentage of Asians/Pacific Islanders received aid than did any other race/ethnicity (indicator 24). Black students also received larger average amounts of aid than White and Hispanic students. White, Black, and Hispanic students experienced an increase in the average amount of aid awarded to them between 1999-2000 and 2003-04.
In 2004, more postsecondary degrees were awarded to Blacks than Hispanics, despite the fact that Hispanics made up a larger percentage of the total population. Twice as many associate's, bachelor's, and master's degrees were awarded to Black females as to Black males (indicator 25.1). Among those who received bachelor's degrees in 2004, business was the most popular field of study. Blacks had the highest proportion of bachelor's degrees conferred in business of any race/ethnicity (indicator 25.2). More master's and doctoral degrees were conferred in education than any other subject. Asians/Pacific Islanders received a higher proportion of master's and doctoral degrees in engineering than any other race/ethnicity (indicator 25.2).