A new report from The Education Trust shows that low-income students who receive federal money for college finish school at almost the same rate as their higher-income peers – with one important caveat.
The report compares six-year graduation rates for Pell Grant recipients with rates for students who do not receive the grants. According to the numbers, the school a student chooses makes all the difference. At the average college in the U.S., low-income students are just about as likely to graduate as their higher-income peers. The gap is only six percentage points.
In the country as a whole, though, it’s a different story. The report puts the national graduation rate for Pell Grant recipients 14 points lower than for wealthier students. That big difference means more low-income students are going to colleges with poor outcomes, where fewer people of any sort graduate. The report notes that a few outlier schools also have very big graduation rate gaps.
In other words it’s the college, not the student, that often determines success.