Are universities 'failing' to provide access to low-income students?

The New America Foundation, a nonpartisan, non-profit think tank, has released "Undermining Pell: How Colleges Compete for Wealthy Students and Leave the Low-Income Behind," a report that sharply criticizes higher educational institutions for limiting access to low-income students.

By analyzing data from the U.S. Department of Education, Stephen Burd, author of the paper, finds that the "net price," or "the amount students pay after all grant aid has been exhausted," of low-income students' college education is "equal to or even more than their families' yearly earnings."

In the release for the reportBurd writes:

As a result, these students are left with little choice but to take on heavy debt loads or engage in activities that reduce their likelihood of earning their degrees, such as working full-time while enrolled or dropping out until they can afford to return.


Overall, too many four-year colleges, both public and private, are failing to help the government achieve its college access mission. They are instead using their financial resources to fiercely compete for the students they most desire: the "best and brightest" students -- and the wealthiest.

Here's an interactive graphic that reveals just how well universities are serving low-income students by comparing the proportion of Pell Grant recipients in a given school's student body to the net price charged to students with the greatest need.

What do you think? E-mail me or let us know on Twitter.

Filed Under: Higher Ed Policy & Regulation
Top image credit: Nerijus J