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LOW-INCOME STUDENTS MISSING ON COLLEGE CAMPUSES: New Study Identifies the True University Minority

The debate over the fairness of affirmative action admission policies is back in the spotlight thanks to the Supreme Court case challenging the University of Michigan’s policies. A new report released by The Century Foundation, “Socioeconomic Status, Race/Ethnicity, and Selective College Admissions,” adds a new dimension to this classic discussion. The report addresses the question: Should low-income students, who constitute an even greater minority than racial groups, benefit from affirmative action? Authors Anthony P. Carnevale of Educational Testing Service and Stephen J. Rose of ORC Macro International conclude that they should.

In 1995, African-Americans and Latinos only constituted 12 percent of the freshman class, even though they accounted for 28 percent of all 18 year olds in the general population. That same year, low-income students made up an even smaller percentage of the freshman class; ten percent of incoming students came from the bottom 50 percent of the socioeconomic scale and only 3 percent from the bottom 25 percent.

The report found that low-income students do not benefit from the advantages of attending a selective college, which the authors define as a greater likelihood of graduating; greater access to graduate schools; and a potential for a higher salary in the job market. If current policies continue, the number of low-income students in college is not expected to increase, as most top colleges do not have plans for identifying and admitting qualified low-income students. In fact, recruiting efforts that target these students have declined over the past decade.

Carnevale and Rose recommend the expansion of current affirmative action programs to include low-income students because they can add both economic and racial diversity on college campuses.

Read the full report at: http://www.tcf.org/Publications/Detail.asp?ItemID=217

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