Black student enrollment in Illinois colleges and universities on the decline

Black students are not attending college in the state at the rate they once attended, a study says, and officials are trying to find out why

University of Chicago (Adobe Stock Images)

Black students are cutting back from attending public colleges and universities in Illinois, according to a study that says enrollment numbers have decreased 26 percent in recent years, the Journal Gazette reports.

In contrast, according to an analysis of under-represented groups in the state’s higher education other ethnicities attending these schools are on the rise. The report was delivered to the Illinois Board of Higher Education this week.

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“We’ve done studies in the past and typically, students have difficulty as far as financing college,” said Arthur Sutton, IBHE’s deputy director of diversity and outreach. “Having to work and not being able to afford to go to college, that could be a circumstance that prevents someone from going to college.”

According to the report, state colleges saw the most decline in enrollment, more than 30 percent. The disparities were a little less when it came to undergraduates at public universities. There, African-American enrollment fell just 14 percent.

It also noted that Blacks and Hispanics are behind the state average in high school graduation rates, which are 75 percent for blacks and 80.7 percent for Hispanics. The statewide graduation rate is 85.4 percent.

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However, the report states Hispanic students statewide grew 6 percent, to 95,167. Asian student enrollment grew 1.9 percent, to 28,745, and enrollment among all other under-represented groups, including Native Americans, Pacific Islanders and disabled individuals, grew 5.1 percent, to 12,439, the outlet reports.

The report measured the period from 2013 to 2017. It saw enrollment among African-American students in Illinois dropped 25.9 percent, to 54,370 students.