Affirmative action for low-income students won’t make much difference at selective universities, even in combination with race- and ethnicity-based preferences, argue Anthony Carnevale and Jeff Strohl of Georgetown’s Center on Education and the Workforce in Rewarding Strivers: Helping Low-Income Students Succeed in College, Instead, strengthen the quality of the schools low-income and minority students attend, “two-year schools and lower-end four-year colleges,” Carnevale tells Inside Higher Education.
. . . most of the action will be up to the states, as they consider rewriting funding formulas to reward institutions based on performance (enrolling and graduating low-income students, etc.), bolstering student services programs at community colleges, and encouraging students to get educated at institutions that cost less, but still have high quality.
“Instead of continuing to struggle to move more students into selective colleges where the high-priced quality programs reside, we may be more successful moving money and quality programs to the community colleges where most of our students reside,” he and Strohl write . . .
The higher education system operates as an “engine of inequality,” Carnevale said. Funding disproportionately goes to selective universities that enroll few low-income students, while community colleges and unselective four-year schools that educate the neediest students get the least money.