New Report Documents Decreasing College Opportunities for Low-Income Americans

A new report published jointly by the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education of the Council for Opportunity in Education and the University of Pennsylvania’s Alliance for Higher Education and Democracy, shows how the pandemic will adversely affect the higher education opportunities of Americans from low-income families.

The report finds that “the lowest income students in the United States face great obstacles paying for college and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic may compound the uncertainty such students face, particularly as federal aid covers a smaller share of college costs and most states give little in the way of financial grants to the poorest students. At the same time, for the poorest dependent students, far more family income was needed to pay for college in 2016 than even in 2008.

Among the key points in the report:

    • Since 1990, the college participation rate for students from the lowest-income families increased from 32 percent to 51 percent. But it is still 24 percentage points lower than college participation rates in the highest income quartile.
    • For every 100 low-income and first-generation dependent students entering college, only 26 will have attained a bachelor’s degree 6 years later compared with 69 percent of students who are not low-income and first generation.
    • High school students whose families were in the highest income quintile were eight times as likely as students from the lowest income quintile to attend selective colleges and universities.
    • Since 2008, the net price of higher education for dependent, full-time undergraduates as a percentage of family income has soared for the poorest students, going from 56 percent of family income in 2008 to 94 percent in 2016 for the lowest income quartile.

“The statistics we track in this report show systemic inequality at every step of the college journey for low-income and first-generation students. These inequalities are unmasked and made more challenging by the COVID-19 pandemic. As we recover and rebuild there is a need for bold ambitious new plans to seize this slightly more open moment as a portal to a more equitable, resilient and environmentally sustainable system,” said Margaret Cahalan, co-author of the report and Director of the Pell Institute.

The full report, 2020 Indicators of Higher Education Equity in the United States, may be downloaded by clicking here.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Get the JBHE Weekly Bulletin

Receive our weekly email newsletter delivered to your inbox

Latest News

Three African Americans Appointed to New Academic Positions

Leon Prieto, Kofi Afrifah, and Andrea Moore have been appointed to new academic positions at Clayton University, Bowie State University, and Savannah State University, respectively.

Historic HBCU Landmark Revitalized Through National Park Service Grant

Through three restoration grants totaling $2 million, the Rosenwald Practice School and Principal House will be fully restored, becoming the new home for the Northeastern North Carolina African American Research and Cultural Heritage Institute.

Five Black Leaders Appointed to Administrative Positions

Here is this week’s roundup of African American who have been appointed to new administrative positions at colleges and universities throughout the United States. If you have news for our appointments section, please email the information to contact@JBHE.com.

North Carolina A&T University Establishes Research Partnership with Collins Aerospace

“There are direct relations to the research we do in the College of Engineering and the mission purpose of Collins Aerospace,” said Stephanie Luster-Teasley, interim dean of the College of Engineering at North Carolina A&T State University. “Being able to partner with Collins really gives our students the opportunities for hands-on research at each level – undergraduate and graduate.”

Featured Jobs