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  Vol. 1 No. 9
Strategic National Arts Alumni Project
DataBrief provides arts educators and arts policy makers
with highlights of SNAAP data and insights
into the value of arts-school education.
Contact us for more information.

•Who Takes Longer? A Look at Race/Ethnicity and Debt
•Who Takes Longer? A Look at School Type
•2013 SNAAP Survey: Coming Soon to an Inbox Near You

This brief draws upon data from the 65,837 arts alumni from 120 institutions (109 postsecondary institutions and 11 arts high schools) in the United States who responded to the SNAAP survey in 2011 and 2012.

SNAAP asks arts alumni if they took more than the recommended amount of time to complete their degrees at their institutions. Thirty-two percent (32%) of undergraduate level respondents and 26% of graduate level respondents say that they took at least one semester longer than was recommended to finish their degrees. Taking extra time to complete oneís degree is associated with a variety of factors, such as a studentís race or ethnicity, the amount of debt s/he incurs, and school type.

Comparisons by race/ethnicity include only alumni who selected one racial/ethnic category and compare those who identify as White or Caucasian; Black or African American; Hispanic, Latino, or of Spanish origin; and Asian. Further, it is important to note that SNAAP only looks at student loan debt accrued at oneís institution, not at other forms of debt (such as credit card debt) or debt accrued at other institutions a student may have attended.

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Who Takes Longer? A Look at Race/Ethnicity and Debt

  • Percentage of Black undergraduate SNAAP respondents who took longer than the recommended amount of time to complete their degrees: 37%

  • Percentage of Black undergraduate SNAAP respondents who accrued zero student loan debt at their institutions and who took longer than the recommended amount of time to complete their degrees: 31%

In line with previous research on race and education, SNAAP reveals that students in some racial/ethnic groups take longer, on average, to complete their degrees. For instance, among undergraduate level respondents, 37% of Black alumni and 36% of Hispanic alumni took extra time to complete their degrees, compared to only 31% of White alumni and 30% of Asian alumni.

But SNAAP data also suggest that these different completion times may be partly a function of the amounts of debt that different groups of students incur. Among alumni who accrued no student loan debt at their institutions, these gaps between racial/ethnic groups narrow: 31% of Black respondents, 33% of Hispanic respondents, 29% of White respondents, and 28% of Asian respondents took at least one extra semester to complete their degrees.

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Who Takes Longer? A Look at School Type

  • Percentage of all undergraduate SNAAP respondents who took longer than the recommended amount of time to complete their degrees: 32%

  • Percentage of undergraduate SNAAP respondents from arts-focused schools who took longer than the recommended amount of time to complete their degrees: 22%

The time it takes to complete oneís arts degree also varies based on the type of school one attends. Twenty-two percent (22%) of undergraduate SNAAP respondents who attended schools focused on art, music and/or design took extra time to complete their degrees, compared to 37% of their counterparts who went to comprehensive masterís or doctoral degree granting institutions. This gap also exists among graduate level respondents. Only 16% of graduate level alumni attending arts-focused schools spent at least one extra semester in school, in comparison to about twice the percentage (32%) of their counterparts who attended comprehensive institutions.

These differences by racial/ethnic group and debt level highlight the particular challenges of completing an arts degree experienced by students who take time off due to financial hardship or other extenuating circumstances.

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2013 SNAAP Survey: Coming Soon to an Inbox Near You

In early October, an invitation to complete the SNAAP survey will go out to hundreds of thousands of arts alumni around the globe. (While we survey only graduates of North American institutions, those graduates live far and wide.) In fact, the institutions participating this year submitted roughly 400,000 arts alumni records, up from 350,000 last year.

Arts alumni of these institutions are eligible to participate in this yearís survey, and to become a part of the growing SNAAP database of arts graduates.

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