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The Greek philosopher Heraclitus once observed that nothing is permanent, except change. Such classical wisdom is once again evident in a recent release of data from the National Center for Education Statistics on the college enrollment patterns of recent high school graduates. Since 1975, when recordkeeping began, a student’s chance of enrolling in college rose reliably with his family’s income. No longer. Low-income students now enroll in college at a higher rate than their middle-income peers.
Roughly 70% of students who graduate high school enroll in a college (either two-year or four-year) the following autumn, according to the most recent data. Wealthy students enroll in college at the highest rate, with 83% of recent high school graduates in the top quintile of the income distribution going on to college.
But below the top quintile, reality diverges from the patterns one might expect. Among students in the bottom income quintile, that college-enrollment rate is 67%, compared to 64% for students from the middle three quintiles. While the difference is still within the margin of error, it marks an undeniable reversal of the historical norm.
Read the full article about college enrollment surging among low-income students by Preston Cooper at aei.org.