The Cost of Being Poor and Ambitious

Over at The Chronicle, Kevin Carey, in discussing Crossing the Finish Line, points out that as the cost of college rises, graduation rates decrease—but only for poor students. There’s basically no correlation between college costs and graduation rates among rich students.

And, surprise, we’re not reacting to this correctly:

The findings in Crossing the Finish Line suggest that we could achieve a net increase in overall graduation rates by redistributing existing financial-aid dollars away from wealthy students toward poor students. Yet for the better part of 20 years, federal, state, and institutional policy makers have been doing the opposite. It’s a shame.

Just as the law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, our higher ed system, in its majestic equality, allows both the rich and the poor to pay ungodly amounts for a college education.

Jesse Singal

Jesse Singal is a former opinion writer for The Boston Globe and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. He is currently a master's student at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Policy. Follow him on Twitter at @jessesingal.