Publication | July 28, 2021

Data for Equity: Closing Racial and Economic Gaps Through a Federal-State Partnership

Racial and economic equity gaps persist in access to college, degree attainment, and employment outcomes despite attempts to close them over multiple decades, and systemic barriers make it more difficult for BIPOC students and students from low-income backgrounds to not only complete their degree but receive the same returns on those degrees as their White and higher-income peers.

As policymakers look to build a new federal-state partnership to restore and maintain funding for public colleges, the federal government, states, and institutional leaders must prioritize closing these equity gaps in postsecondary education. The federal government should include funds for states to assess equity gaps in resources and student outcomes and develop strategies to combat them using available federal and state data to identify and target resources where they are most needed. However, the data are limited and vary by state.

Improvements to data are essential for policymakers to better understand and more effectively address these longstanding inequities. A new report from the Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS) provides an in-depth overview of federal and state postsecondary data collection, highlights current legislation that could fill existing equity gaps, and makes policy recommendations for federal and state data collection, which includes the creation of equity dashboards to analyze trends, individual institution data, and program outcomes to provide actionable information to guide state policies that improve equity in postsecondary education.