Give More Low-Income Students a Path to College

Harold O. Levy

For most of its history, America ignored the talents and potential of most Americans. We will never know what great progress might have been made in science, medicine, business and many other fields if we had taken advantage of the brainpower and abilities of all our people — regardless of gender, race, ethnicity or income level.

And people from low-income families continue to face enormous obstacles.

A 2014 White House report, “Increasing College Opportunity for Low-Income Students,” states: “While half of all people from high-income families have a bachelor’s degree by age 25, just one in 10 people from low-income families do.”

These low-income students lack money, don’t get adequate counseling in high school and face many other barriers that more affluent students never encounter. To enable more low-income students to get a higher education, colleges should make socioeconomic diversity a priority. They should encourage outstanding low-income students to apply, simplify the application process and make transparent the actual tuition price and financial aid possibilities for students from struggling families.

In addition, colleges should devote more financial aid to those who need it and less to those who don’t, by reducing so-called merit scholarships. Colleges should also re-examine their policies of giving preferential admissions to the children of alumni.

Current policies are resulting in an enormous waste of talent. We need to recommit ourselves to the American dream and being the land of opportunity for all.

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