Students from all socioeconomic groups have been earning bachelor’s degrees at increasing rates in recent years, but gaps in college attainment by socioeconomic status have worsened slightly since 1970,.
The study, from the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education, shows that 72 percent of the bachelor’s degrees earned in 1970 went to students whose families were in the top half of the income spectrum. In 2014, that figure rose to 77 percent. Students whose families were in the bottom half of the income strata earned 23 percent of bachelor’s degrees in 2014, compared with 28 percent in 1970.
One reason for the schism, the report says, is the types of institutions that students attend. Students from the bottom two income quartiles more often enroll in colleges with lower graduation rates than do those from wealthier families. Rising college costs and poverty rates also play a role.
A version of this article appeared in the April 27, 2016 edition of Education Week as College Graduation