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Michigan has one of the lowest rates of black students enrolled in college

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A recent study conducted by The Education Trust says Michigan has the third lowest rates of black student enrollment in its colleges nationally. This raises important questions about equity, opportunity, and how Michigan's K-12 schools often fail black students.

Michigan has an education disparity. A recent study shows the state has the third lowest rate in the country of black students enrolled in its colleges. Only about eight-percent of college students in Michigan are black, while based on population, that number should be closer 17-percent.

Wil Del Pilar is the Vice President of Higher Education at The Education Trust, which conducted the study. He said while black enrollment rates are low, graduation retention rates are even worse.

“80-percent of public, four-year institutions in Michigan are below the national average grad rate for black students. There needs to be a focus, especially at the institutions that are enrolling the highest number of black students,” he said, “Their grad rates, none of them, are above 24-percent. So that means one out of four black students finish.”

Saginaw Valley State University has one of the higher rates of black student enrollment and retention.

J.J. Boehm is a spokesperson for SVSU. He says the school has made graduation retention for black students a priority.

“One of the things that we’re proud of is the significant improvement we’ve seen in the retention rates for our African-American students,” he said, “Over the past five years we’ve seen our retention rate improve from 56-percent to 69-percent for our African-American students.”

Boehm says transition classes, and a strong support network help keep retention rates high.