Researchers Propose New Way to Gauge Colleges’ Success in Enrolling Low-Income Students

Posted by Education Next on February 19, 2019

By Lindsay Broderick, Staff Writer at National College Access Network

A recent study conducted by Caroline Hoxby and Sarah Turner of Stanford University and the University of Virginia, respectively, has received a great deal of traction from both higher education news sources, like The Chronicle and Inside Higher Ed, and mainstream media, like The Washington Post.

This study is getting so much attention because it offers an alternative to the parameters typically used to measure an institutions’ ability (or willingness) to enroll low-income students. The number of students who are Pell-eligible nationally or who are in the bottom quintile (20 percent) of the national distribution of income are common metrics for assessing how institutions serve low-income students.

While tracking the number of students who are Pell-eligible at a state’s public flagship institution is an easy, standardized method to measure low-income students’ enrollment rates, Hoxby and Turner argue that this is unfair to institutions in states with a lower overall percentage of Pell-eligible students in their “relevant pool.”

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