Improving economic diversity at the better colleges

Matt Zalaznick's picture
Thursday, February 6, 2014

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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