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Study – Where Have All the Low-Income Students Gone?

Higher Education Today – “In the upcoming edition of The Presidency, ACE’s Chris Nellum and Terry Hartle discuss a surprising and deeply troubling trend: A steep decline in the percentage of low-income students enrolling in college immediately after graduating from high school. Their article is posted in its entirety below. Since 2008, an intensive national campaign has sought to boost the number of college graduates. Early in his first term, President Obama laid out an ambitious goal, promising that “by 2020, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.” Foundations have offered significant funding for work in this area. New organizations, such as Complete College America, have also emerged. Federal student aid and college preparation programs have been generously funded as well. It is against this backdrop that we have discovered a surprising and deeply troubling trend. According to U.S. Census Bureau data, the percentage of students from low-income families enrolling in higher education immediately after graduating from high school has declined by 10 percentage points since 2008, from 56 percent of graduates to just 46 percent. Put another way, low-income students are actually much less likely to enroll in college immediately after high school than they were seven years ago, despite all of the efforts to increase their post-secondary participation. As a result, the percentage of low-income students attending college today is only about 3 percent higher than it was 20 years ago…”

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