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Education Disparities among Puerto Ricans in Higher Education

Enrollment disparity in college or graduate school between Puerto Ricans and Latinos compared to whites is about 10 percentage points lower in the United States and New York State according to Centro’s new Education Research Brief by Dr. Luis O. Reyes and Anna Rosofsky. Their research is based on U.S. Census Bureau for the year 2011 for the United States, New York City and New York State. The disparity is almost 16 points lower in New York City, with 20.5% for Puerto Ricans and 36.4% for whites.

While Latinos in New York City and New York State have a higher college or graduate school enrollment than Latinos in the rest of the country – with 24.2% in the city and 24.2% in the state compared to a 20.5%, nationally – this is not true for Puerto Ricans. Puerto Rican enrollment only is about equal to that of Puerto Ricans nationally.

When it comes to completing their degrees, Puerto Ricans also show substantial educational disparities nationwide when compared to whites. While 19.9 % of whites completed a bachelor’s degree and 12% a graduate or professional degree, only 10.7% of Puerto Ricans completed a bachelor’s degree and 5.4% completed a graduate or professional degree. Latinos show a similar disparity in graduation rates, with 9.1% of the population having attained a bachelor’s degree and 4.1% a graduate or professional degree.

In New York City, Puerto Ricans have the greatest disparity earning college degrees when compared to whites. While 25.2% of whites completed a bachelor’s degree and 20.23% a graduate or professional degree, only 8.1% of Puerto Ricans completed a bachelor’s degree and 4.1% a graduate or professional degree. Latinos in New York City show a similar disparity with 10.2% of the population with a bachelor’s degree and 4.9% with a graduate or professional degree.

In addition to educational enrollment and graduation disparities among white, Latino and Puerto Rican populations in the United States, gender disparities at the college and graduate level are more pronounced for Puerto Rican men than for Puerto Rican woman. The percentage of white men that have completed or are enrolled in college or graduate school, 60.6%, is almost that of Puerto Rican men that have similar attainment, 32.3% . This disparity is not as great for women, where 65% of white women have completed or are enrolled in college or graduate school while only 43% of Puerto Rican women have similar attainment.

To read the full Education Research Brief, click Here.