Public College Access for Minority and Low Income Students Devastated
In the pursuit of better rankings in “American Best Colleges” and U.S. News Report and numerous websites many public colleges have abandoned their commitment to low income and minority students. Public college access for minority and low income students has been devastated by a shift in college enrollment management practices. According to a recent Education Trust report the data regarding the enrollment of low income and minority college students is not encouraging. The report is titled ” Promise Abandoned: How Policy Choices and Institutional Practices Resist College Opportunities.” Although the number of African American students entering college grew from 943,000 during 1974 to 1.9 million by 2004 and Latino enrollment increased from 353,000 to 1.7 million their college enrollments could not keep pace with increases in white students. While the number of white high school graduates fell from 2.6 million during 1974 to 1.8 million during 2004 there actual college enrollment increased from 7.7 million during 1974 to 9.7 million during 2004.
Education is a key to employment in the information age and thousands of minority and low income students have been left behind during the last 15 years. Colleges are in hot pursuit of the top students and they have increased financial aid for families making more than $100,000 by 347% compared to 91% for families making $20,000 – $40,000. Many factors are contributing to this shift toward supporting those already have an upper class income. Some public universities no longer make a commitment to college access because they have shifted policies over the last fifteen years and they have success. The state legislators of these public colleges have taken a harder look at who they are supporting for the scarce dollars that are available.
The policies seem to support giving more financial aid based on merit and more financial aid to middle an upper class students who have greater chances of graduating. The education gap continues to expand based on the income and ethnicity of students. Many minority students who do make it to college come with insufficient funds and few experiences in advanced math and science courses. They also lack the financial resources to meet the escalating cost of college. There is no interest in providing greater access for students who may require more academic support.
It is clear that colleges need to increase their commitment to providing access for minority and low income students. They are over looking the fact that minorities represent the fastest growing student population. We are risking a diminished ability to compete in the global economy. The publications and websites that rank colleges should include college access for minorities and low income as one of the criteria for high ranking schools. College financial aid and admissions policies must change and those who establish federal and state policies must write legislation that supports low income and minority students. Dr. Stephen Jones is author of “Seven Secrets of How to Study” a study skills book for students of all ages.