The University of Colorado Boulder campus is seen on Monday, August 23, 2021. (Olivia Sun, The Colorado Sun)

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Reginaldo Haro-Flores knew finishing college would be an uphill battle.

As the first in his family to go to a four-year university, he faced a struggle to pay tuition, buy textbooks and supplies, and balance a job while still helping to support his parents, who questioned the value of a college education. 

Haro-Flores enrolled at the University of Northern Colorado in 2016, among a growing number of Latino Coloradans in the past decade heading to college. But like many in this wave, Haro-Flores never finished, contributing to the persistent gap in college completion. 

Even as a more diverse group of students have enrolled in college, Colorado’s ethnic and racial gaps among bachelor’s and graduate degree holders barely budged from 2010 to 2020, Census data shows. 

The gaps are even wider among those earning any type of postsecondary credential. As of 2020, almost 60% of white residents held some kind of college credential, including industry certificates. But only 38% of Black residents and 25% of Latino residents did.

While other states also have gaps, the Centennial State has some of the largest in the nation between Black and Latino residents and their white counterparts. 

The fissure will likely widen when the full impact of the pandemic becomes clear as students dropped out or chose not to attend college altogether. A healthy job market also has made residents question whether a degree was worth carrying long-term college debt. 


Jason Gonzales, Chalkbeat Colorado

Twitter: @ByJasonGonzales