Overall, the research yields four major findings:
• Students of color disproportionately go to schools that spend less on them
• Because of this disproportionate enrollment, public colleges in 75 percent of states spent more, on average, to educate a white student than either a black or Latino student in the 2015-16 academic year
• Public colleges in two states stood out for having small spending gaps by race but especially low overall spending on students of color
• If public colleges spend the same on a student of color as they do on a white student, billions of dollars more would be spent to educate students of color each year

Two things have contributed to these troubling spending gaps, the analysis reveals.

1. Policy choices force states to fund public institutions in a way that directs more money to elite research institutions and less to community colleges and four-year schools. This leads to limited resources at the latter institutions.

2. Inequities in access to higher education result in more students of color attending the community colleges and four-year schools receiving fewer resources. Students of color are more likely to attend underresourced institutions with lower government funding per student, thus continuing the inequitable K-12 spending cycle.

These spending dilemmas highlight concerning state policy trends:
• Some states have high per-student spending but also have considerable enrollment gaps by race. “California public colleges have some of the highest spending levels in the country; the state appropriated more than $33 billion for higher education for the 2018-19 school year, including $150 million for the California Community Colleges’ Guided Pathways program to improve student success,” according to the report. “But because black and Latino students are overrepresented in the state’s two-year colleges—which are typically less expensive to attend and spend less per student—California as a result has substantial spending gaps related to race.”
• On the other hand, public colleges in other states might not have considerable spending gaps by race, but the grand total per-student amount spend on students of color is markedly lower than the national average. “Louisiana, for example, does not have a major gap in spending across different racial or ethnic groups. However, while the average spending per student of color in the United States is around $12,900 a year, Louisiana spends just $9,100 annually—a level that is 34 percent below national figures,” according to the analysis.

Whatever the spending gap, the impact is clear, Garcia writes. Research shows that per-student spending impacts students’ success—a 10 percent per-student increase can result in more degrees, while a decrease in spending can have negative impacts on degree attainment.

About the Author:

Laura Ascione

Laura Ascione is the Managing Editor, Content Services at eSchool Media. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland's prestigious Philip Merrill College of Journalism. Find Laura on Twitter: @eSN_Laura http://twitter.com/eSN_Laura


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