Low Income Hinders College Attendance, Even for Top Students

Posted to Statistics  |  Nathan Yau

What if you were a good student but knew you weren’t going to be able to go to college?

I was fortunate enough for most of my life to know that if I wanted to get a higher education, I would be able to. Thanks, Mom and Dad. It’s hard for me to imagine working hard in middle school and high school if I didn’t have that goal in mind, but that’s the path that many grow up with.

The above graph are the results of a study by the Department of Education started in 1988. It shows that low-income students are most likely not to complete college – despite doing well in 8th grade. It’s a much different story for high-income students.

The Department tracked student progress in 8th grade and through high school and college over the next 12 years. Only 3% of students, from low income families, with low 8th grade math performance, completed college. Compare that to students with the same math performance but from high income families. Thirty percent finished college. That’s ten times more than the former.

What’s worse is that many low-income students who had high math performance still didn’t complete college. The percentage of college completion for low-income, high math students was still lower than high-income, low math students.

[via @golan]

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