Socially disadvantaged youths are struggling to go to college more than ever in the United States today, despite the availability of financial aid programs that are believed to be helping them. Tens of billions of dollars, both privately provided and taxpayers’ money, are going to high-income students, as are funds provided by universities and colleges. This is because children of wealthy parents qualify for loans, and are more likely to receive them as the provider sees them as more likely to pay the loan back, sometimes even early.
Low-income students are more likely to qualify to attend prestigious universities and colleges, such as Ivy League schools than enroll in them according to a study by the Georgetown University Center for Education and the Workforce. These students score just as well or better than their high-income counterparts on standardized admissions tests. Despite this, they’re largely not being given access. Why?
There are two main factors. Loan costs are deterring to low-income students, and colleges aren’t willing to support them at the expense of their well-off classmates. With enrollment rates slumping, schools are fighting for more students, preferably ones who can afford tuition. According to a representative of the University of Ithaca, schools are faced with the following choice – enroll a lot of students for a little money or a few for a lot.
It’s not because elite schools can’t afford to help low-income students. The above-mentioned study found that the most prestigious universities nationwide boasted endowments averaging $1.2 billion and enjoyed budget surpluses of as much as $139 million a year. Cornell University, a larger and better-known school near Ithaca, has a $6.8 billion endowment. This institution spent $390 million less a year than it took in, but less than one-fifth of its students are low-income.
On the other hand, children of the richest 1% of Americans are 77 times more likely to go to an Ivy League college than those of the poorest 20%. A representative of the government calls this “polishing the privileged,” and that’s exactly what it seems like.