St. Louis Post-Secondary Education: Overcoming the Equity Gap

St. Louis Post-Secondary Education: Overcoming the Equity Gap

A recent study highlights the equity gap in education that exists in St. Louis today. Consider:

  • Did you know 44 percent of St. Louis area adults (25+ years) have earned an associate’s degree or higher, but only 27.5 percent of the Black population? That’s a gap of 16-percentage points.
  • Nationally, 62 percent of students from the wealthiest families earn a degree, while just 16 percent of from the lowest income families do.
  • Moreover, St. Louis area adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher earn 77 percent more than those with a high school diploma.

These statistics illustrate in stark terms the significant equity gap in education that exists in the St. Louis area and across the country. Think about the lost opportunities this gap represents:

  • Reduced earnings and a loss of financial security;
  • Diminished community networks;
  • Limited access to healthcare;
  • The lack of personal accomplishment after completing a sought-after goal.

The statistics and conclusions are among many brought to light in a recent study, “Degrees with Less Debt,” prepared by St. Louis Graduates. A component fund of the St. Louis Community Foundation, St. Louis Graduates is a collaborative network of representatives from K-12, higher education, youth-serving nonprofits, and business and philanthropy organizations that are committed to eliminating equity gaps in post-secondary education.

The “Degrees with Less Debt” report also highlights five local universities and the actions they are taking to help provide equity and the support low-income and Black students need to be successful in the post-secondary setting.

Access to educational opportunities and the funds to pursue them are also essential to closing the equity gap. That’s why St. Louis Graduates, and other community funders including the Community Foundation, created Scholarship Central, which is an online scholarship database that connects students in Missouri and Illinois counties in the St. Louis metro area with financial resources for college. Already, this year to date, 2,568 scholarships totaling more than $9.2 million were awarded through Scholarship Central.

Consider doing your part to lend a hand to minimize the equity gap. Learn about:

Available scholarships:  Scholarship Central (

Funding a scholarship: St. Louis Community Foundation at

St. Louis Graduates and its efforts to close educational equity gaps: