Improving economic diversity at the better colleges

Matt Zalaznick's picture

Last month, 80 college and university presidents convened at the White House to discuss ways to get more capable low-income students to and through top colleges.

It’s an important topic — especially as concerns sharpen over slowing rates of social mobility in the United States. A college education continues to be the most reliable ladder that allows poor children to climb to the middle class and higher. Economists say a child born in the bottom quintile of the income distribution has just a 5 percent chance of moving up to the top quintile without college. The chance of making it to the top nearly quadruples if the child gets a college degree. But currently, the proportion of children from low-income families who obtain a college degree is low — around 9 percent — compared with 50 percent of children from affluent families.

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