According to the Indiana Commission for Higher Education's 2020 College Equity Report, college-going rates are down overall with persisting gaps among student groups for college enrollment and completion.
High schools are graduating more diverse cohorts of students, but Black students are going to college less often. The report shows Black students enrolling in colleges at a rate nine percentage points lower than five years ago. It's the biggest drop among student groups in that timeframe.
Low-income students are also less likely to go to college with just 38 percent enrolling in colleges or universities after high school, compared to the state average of 61 percent.
South Bend Community Schools Superintendent Todd Cummings said his district is focused on connecting kids with different college-related support programs. He said in addition to a lack of resources or other support, some families just don't know what options are out there, like dual credit classes or the state's 21st Century Scholars financial aid program.
"We have really great programs that allow our students to earn college credit and so it's just communicating that they know what their options are and that they know how to enroll and how to participate," he said.
The report also shows that students who earn college credit in high school are more likely to finish college on time.
The report also shows a lack of diversity in STEM (science, engineering, technology and math) majors, as well as education. Black and Hispanic or Latino students make up just 8 percent of future teachers in Indiana colleges.
Cummings said it's critical for schools to inspire more students to look at teaching as a career, and to compensate current teachers fairly.
"We're all going to have to do a better job of encouraging folks to be a teacher," he said.
The report also shows that Black and low-income students are less likely to continue after their first year.
Overall, more students are finishing their degrees after getting to college, though major gaps persist: 37 percent of Hispanic and Latino students finish their degrees on-time and 27 percent of Black students finish on time, compared to 51 and 58 percent for White and Asian students.