The average college graduation rate in the U.S. between 2017 and 2021 was about 63%, reflecting the share of students who began a bachelor’s or equivalent degree program and completed it within six years. Yet that rate varied significantly among different racial and ethnic groups.
While Black (43.7%) and American Indian and Alaska Native (40.9%) students had graduation rates much lower than the national mark, for example, the rate among Asian students (76.2%) was much higher.
Breaking down the data further shows how gaps between racial and ethnic groups persist and vary at the state level. As part of the Racial Equality in America project, U.S. News compared graduation rates of racial and ethnic groups in a state to the rate of the state’s overall population, measuring the average disparity between the two categories. States were ranked based on the size of their disparity, with higher values resulting in a worse ranking for racial equality in college graduation rates. Disparities in graduation rates are reflected as a percentage-point difference.
In Illinois, for instance, the overall college graduation rate is about 64%, but large gaps between Black students (38%) and Asian students (78%) indicate a high level of disparity. In New York, the college graduation rate is about 69%, but smaller gaps exist between groups on average, indicating lower disparity in the state.
These are the 10 best states for racial equality in college graduation rates as assessed by U.S. News. Learn more about the Racial Equality in America project in our methodology.