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College Enrollment For Low-Income Students is Now at an All-Time High

Low income students in college

For low-income students, getting into college might seem to be harder. However, recent statistics show that low-income students now actually enroll in college at a higher rate than their middle-income peers!

The National Center for Education Statistics released the latest statistics regarding the college enrollment pattern of recent high school graduates. Since record keeping began in 1975, it is usual to see that the probability of a high school student to enroll in college rise dependably with his family's income. However, the most recent data have shown a great increase in college enrollment from the low-income sector--even higher than the middle-income sector.

In the recent data, around 70% of recent high school graduates enroll in either a four-year or two-year college. Not surprisingly, 83% in the top quintile are from the wealthy students, which comprise the highest rate of recent high school graduates who enroll in college.

What's exceptional is the rate among low-income and middle-income students. The college-enrollment rate for low-income is 67% while the rate for middle-income is 64%. Though the difference is still within the margin of error, it indicates a remarkable change in the historical standard.

The recent data also showed the narrowed "enrollment gap" between wealthy and low-income students. In 1986, the wealthy comprise the 73% of college enrollees while the low-income comprise only 37%, which demonstrated an enrollment gap of 36 percentage points between rich and poor students. But as of 2016, the enrollment gap narrowed to only 16 percentage points.

Though the above statistics seem noteworthy, it is important to remember that college enrollment is just the start. For it to be really beneficial, students must finish their college degree. But 57% only do so in a span of six years.

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