Efforts to recruit poor students lag at some elite colleges

Matt Zalaznick's picture
Thursday, August 1, 2013

With affirmative action under attack and economic mobility feared to be stagnating, top colleges profess a growing commitment to recruiting poor students.

But a comparison of low-income enrollment shows wide disparities among the most competitive private colleges. A student at Vassar, for example, is three times as likely to receive a need-based Pell Grant as one at Washington University in St. Louis.

"It’s a question of how serious you are about it,” said Catharine Bond Hill, the president of Vassar. She said of colleges with multibillion-dollar endowments and numerous tax exemptions that recruit few poor students, “Shame on you.”

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