Support for Minority-Serving Colleges Would Serve the U.S., Too, Report Says

Report: “Lessons Learned: Implications From Studying Minority-Serving Institutions”

Authors: David A. Bergeron, vice president for postsecondary education; Farah Z. Ahmad, policy analyst; and Elizabeth Baylor, associate director for postsecondary education, all at the Center for American Progress

Organization: Center for American Progress

Summary: Minority-serving institutions face financial challenges and graduation rates that, in many cases, are low relative to other colleges. Exploring best practices that increase student success at minority-serving institutions is important because members of minority group will form a majority of the U.S. population by 2043.


  • Minority-serving institutions have helped increase college-going rates among high-school graduates in underrepresented minority groups, in part through affordable tuition rates. While low tuition does help increase access, it limits the revenue available to the institutions to deliver a high-quality education.
  • Minority-serving community colleges and four-year colleges had median revenue that was sharply lower than that of other community and four-year institutions.
  • Minority-serving community colleges spent 7 percent less per student on instruction, academic support, and student services than did other community colleges. In contrast, minority-serving public four-year colleges were able to spend 9 percent more per student than did other four-year institutions.
  • Fiscal constraints affected the performance of community colleges and four-year institutions. In 2012 the graduation rate for minority-serving community colleges was 27 percent below that of other community colleges. By contrast, the graduation rate for minority-serving public four-year colleges was nearly 10 percent higher than that of other public four-year colleges.

Bottom Line: Because minority-serving institutions often do not receive appropriate levels of support for the students they serve, the authors suggest that re-evaluations of federal spending would give those institutions the resources necessary to improve, leading to greater equity among racial and ethnic groups in educational attainment and more well-prepared graduates of minority-serving institutions.

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