The Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Education

Report: Moving Beyond Access — College Success for Low-Income, First-Generation Students

Posted on August 6, 2019

Dr. Jennifer Engle, Assistant Director for Higher Education, Ed Trust, and former Senior Research Analyst, Pell Institute in collaboration with Dr. Vincent Tinto, Pell Institute Senior Scholar and Distinguished University Professor, Higher Education Program, School of Education, Syracuse University, completed this new timely and informative Pell Institute report in which they examine the postsecondary characteristics, experiences, and outcomes of low-income, first-generation college students. The report highlights how the combined impact of being both low-income and first-generation correlates with a range of factors (i.e. demographic and enrollment characteristics) that lower the students? chances of successfully earning a college degree. Thus, they show how the combination of these two characteristics put students who are both low-income and the first in their families to go to college at the greatest risk of failure in postsecondary education.

The report utilized data from the U.S. Department of Education datasets to describe:

  • The ways in which low-income and first-generation students participate in higher education, including persistence and degree attainment rates, and a comparison of their participation to other students, including those who are neither low-income nor first-generation.
  • A comprehensive delineation of the barriers that low-income, first-generation students face to achieving success in college.
  • A highlight of strategies that colleges and universities can pursue to address the barriers and improve low-income and first-generation students? chances of earning degrees.
  • A practical set of recommendations for institutional and government actions that could go a long way towards closing the access and success gaps that exist today.

Read the full report here: 


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