A rising share of undergrads are from poor families, especially at less selective colleges

June 6, 2019 | Pew Research Center

The overall number of undergraduates at U.S. colleges and universities has increased dramatically over the past 20 years, with growth fueled almost exclusively by an influx of students from low-income families and students of color. But these changes are not occurring uniformly across the postsecondary landscape. The rise of poor and minority undergraduates has been most pronounced in public two-year colleges and the least selective four-year colleges and universities, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of National Center for Education Statistics data. There has been less change at the nation’s more selective four-year colleges and universities, where a majority of dependent undergraduates continue to be from middle- and higher-income families.

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