GSE Publications

Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version

September 2008


College enrollment rates vary systematically based on income and socioeconomic status (SES), with lower enrollment rates for lower-income students and students with lower SES than for their higher-income and SES peers (Cabrera & La Nasa, 2001). Although college enrollment rates increased for all groups over the past three decades, the gap in these rates between students from low-income families and those from high-income families was the same size in 1997 as in 1970 (32 percentage points; Fitzgerald & Delaney, 2002). Using data from the National Educational Longitudinal Study (NELS), Cabrera and La Nasa (2001) found that, after controlling for relevant variables, college application rates were 26 percentage points lower for students with low socioeconomic status than for those with high socioeconomic status. These differential application and enrollment rates are especially disconcerting at a time when there are widening gaps in income and health insurance benefits between high school and college graduates (Baum & Ma, 2007).


Copyright © 2008 The Ohio State University Press. Reprinted from The Journal of Higher Education, Volume 79, Issue 5, September/October 2008, pages 564-586.
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Date Posted: 13 October 2008

This document has been peer reviewed.