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Why College Isn’t Worth It, No Matter How Rich or Poor You Are

Graduation 13

ByJohn Sandman

A highlight of the Great Recession was the flight of the unemployed to the far-flung precincts of higher ed. Many of those people left school for the job market in recent years, but higher ed experts viewed this as an opportunity for lower income groups to become better acclimated to the idea of going to college.

Foundations bank-rolled this effort, including new organizations like Complete College America, while money was poured into college prep programs. Between the 2008-09 academic years, government grant aid increased by about 40%, from $82 billion to $123 billion in 2013-14.

But a contrarian trend has emerged, one that higher ed honchos find troubling. According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the percentage of students from low-income families enrolling in higher education immediately after graduating from high school has dropped by over 10% since 2008, from 56% of graduates then to 46% today. As a result, the percentage of low-income students attending college today is only about 3% higher than it was two decades ago.