Instead, low-income students are increasingly winding up at for-profit universities such as ITT Tech, Brown Mackie, DeVry, and the University of Phoenix, where the proportion who are low income has jumped from 49 percent to 66 percent since 2008, and where graduation rates are the worst in higher education.
They’re also concentrated at regional public universities whose already thinly stretched funding to support them has generally been sliding downward, such as Alabama State, Boise State, Montclair State, the University of Southern Maine, Grambling State, Southeastern Oklahoma State, and others, some 41 percent of whose students now are low income. And 42 percent of students are low income at the hardest-pressed sector of American higher education: community colleges, which spend less per student than many public primary and secondary schools, and where the odds of ever graduating are also comparatively low.
Only 7 percent of students graduate from the two-year college within even three years, according to the U.S. Department of Education. (The school says another 23 percent transfer.) At Trinity, 86 percent of students finish their four-year degrees within six years.
In part because of disparities like this, students from high-income families are a staggering eight times more likely to get bachelor’s degrees by the time they’re 24 than from low-income families, up from six times more likely in 1970, according to the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education.