Two new studies reveal chronic under-representation for low income students and students of color in college

Education Trust recently dug in to two reports dealing with college enrollment and socioeconomic status. Both studies show a pretty persistent gap when it comes to Black, Latino, and low income college students.

The data in a National Center for Education Statistics study reveals that while Black and Latino students have been making steady gains in college enrollment since 1974 (between 1974 and 2006, Black college enrollment has gone up 12 percentage points and Latino college enrollment has gone up 8), but still lag behind their White and Asian peers by an average of 14 points. Children with parents who have earned a high school diploma or less have also made gains in college enrollment, increasing by 11 percentage points between 1974 and 2006, however, the rate is still low (62.9 percent as of 2006) when compared to the children of parents with some college (75.2 percent), a Bachelors degree (87 percent), or a Graduate or professional degree (91.3 percent). Black, Latino, and students with parents with a high school degree or less are also much more likely to delay college enrollment. According to Education Trust, a student who enrolls in college right after high school is more likely to complete the program and earn their degree/certificate.

A study conducted by Stanford University’s Center for Education Policy Analysis found that the gap for enrolling in a “highly selective school” (e.g. Ivy League) between low income students, Black students, Latino students, and their peers is growing, even after controlling for income. As of 2004, the make-up of the county’s highly selective schools are as follows: 72.5% white, 12% Asian, 7% Hispanic, 3.5% black, less than 0.5% Native American, and 5% multiracial or other. The study also found that higher income students are eight times as likely to enroll at a highly selective school compared to other income groups. Researchers suggest that there are numerous factors that that have lead to this gap for Black, Latino, and low income students, including a persistent achievement gap in elementary and secondary school and current college admission process that favors advantaged groups.

Read more about the studies here.


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