In the past 13 years, all racial groups decreased their dropout rate and improved their college enrollment or completion rates, according to longitudinal national data released by the U.S. Census Bureau.

This is the first time that the census has developed a series of datasets that provide a snapshot of college enrollment trends from 1947 to 2011. These figures exclude people who are in the military or are incarcerated.

The nation's dropout rate fell to 8.3 percent in 2011 from 13.1 percent. Here is the breakdown by race from 1999 to 2011:

  • The dropout rate for whites declined from 12.8 percent to 8.2 percent. College enrollment or completion rose to 74 percent from 67.5 percent.
  • Blacks' dropout rate decreased from 16 percent to 8.9 percent. The college matriculation and completion rate increased slightly to 66.4 percent from 60.4 percent.
  • The dropout rate for Latinos fell from 33.9 percent to 16.3 percent. Their college enrollment or graduation jumped to 65.4 percent from 49.6 percent. 

This article is part of our Next America: Higher Education project, which is supported by grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Lumina Foundation.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.