New Data Reveals Stark Gaps in Graduation Rates Between Poor and Wealthy Students

Sep 25, 2015 by

pell grants

For the first time ever, the public can see the graduation rates for Pell Grant recipients at over 1,000 schools.

by Annie Waldman –

A new report released Thursday provides a detailed look at the graduation rates of low-income college students. At many colleges, low-income students graduate at much lower rates than their high-income peers.

At the University of Missouri-Kansas City, only 35 percent of Pell Grant recipients graduate college, a rate that is more than 20 percentage points lower than that of their wealthier peers. And at St. Andrews, a liberal arts college in Laurinburg, North Carolina, only 13 percent of Pell Grant recipients graduate, more than 50 percentage points less than students who don’t receive the grants.

Debt By Degrees

Use our interactive database to search new federal data on almost 7,000 schools in the U.S. to see how well they support their poorest students financially. Explore the app.

(Sisi Wei and Annie Waldman, ProPublica)

The study found 51 percent of Pell students graduate nationwide, compared to 65 percent of non-Pell students. The average gap between wealthy and poor students at the same schools is much smaller: an average of 5.7 percentage points. That’s because many Pell students attend schools with low graduation rates. (You can now look up whether poor students are graduating at the same rate as their classmates in our newly updated interactive database, Debt by Degrees.)

Ben Miller, the senior director for postsecondary education at the Center for American Progress, said that schools with large graduation gaps deserve greater scrutiny.

“Colleges have responsibility to ensure that the students they enroll are well served,” said Miller. “If you’re going to enroll someone, you should do the absolute best you can to graduate them, or else don’t take their money.”

The new report comes on the heels of recently released federal education data that has brought new focus on how low-income students fare at college, including how much federal debt they take on and how much they earn after graduation. The graduation rates of low-income students were not included in that data.

Source: New Data Reveals Stark Gaps in Graduation Rates Between Poor and Wealthy Students – ProPublica

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