How wealth influences college admissions

Heydi Ortiz, News Editor

Recent scandals and data continue to fuel the belief that post-secondary education is rigged for the wealthy. With the recent college admissions scandal, involving prominent actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman, some would say it’s no secret that the wealthy have an upper hand when it comes to getting a higher education.

Still, even if wealth was obviously linked to having an upper hand in education where is the concrete information to prove it?

According to new federal data from the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics, family wealth is linked to students’ odds of enrolling and graduating from college as well as the type of college they attend.

According to Insiderhighered, “The new data arrived as a higher education sector and has been rocked by scrutiny of its role in perpetuating economic inequality, thanks to a high-profile admissions scandal and unflattering data on social mobility.”

Students from the lowest quintile who decided to attend college were 42 percent more likely to first pursue an associates degree while 32 percent decided to pursue a bachelor’s degree. This is not the the case for the wealthiest quintile which were 78 percent more likely to pursue a four-year degree rather than 13 percent who chose to pursue a two-year degree.

This has long brought up questions about how diverse the higher education cohort is. How diverse can a university be if most of its attendees come from a higher socioeconomic background?

These statistics translate in completion rates which show low-income families are disadvantaged at every level in the U.S. education system.

Study shows this is partly due to the fact that the vast majority of high-achieving students who come from a low-income socioeconomic status do not apply to any single competitive college. Even then, elite colleges choose to prioritize wealthy high schools where family income is in excess of $100,000 and the majority of students are white.

What else adds to those advantages? “Silver spoon” admissions in which colleges favor the children of alumni.

According to Insiderhighered, 42 percent of private institutions and 7 percent of public institutions consider legacy status as a factor for admission. Luckily, UNF is not one of those institutions says Anissa Agne, Senior Director of Enrollment Management and Student Financial Aid.

Agne says students at UNF are high-achieving due to the fact that UNF considers test scores and GPA above other factors.

“If we sense something odd, like if we see a high test score but your GPA for an incoming student is pretty low, we question that,” said Agne.


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