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The 20% Solution

Selective Colleges Can Afford to Admit More Pell Grant Recipients

Posted: May 2, 2017
Authors: Anthony P. Carnevale, Martin Van Der Werf
Organizations: Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce

Low-income students have rarely had much success on college campuses. Although college enrollment rates generally have been rising for all population groups, enrollments have risen the least for low-income students. The disparity in graduation rates by economic class is stunning: more than half of students from the top quartile of family income finish college, but fewer than one in ten from the bottom quartile do. The growth in wealth inequality since the 1980s is mostly due to this postsecondary education gap. By and large, young people who earned college degrees grew wealthier, while those who did not grew poorer—especially as workplace demand in the new technologically-focused economy has shifted towards college-educated workers.

The 20% Solution