Focused on race-based affirmative action, many public universities aren’t eager to recruit low-income students, reports the New York Times.
“It’s expensive,” said Donald E. Heller, dean of the College of Education at Michigan State University. “You have to go out and identify them, recruit them and get them to apply, and then it’s really expensive once they enroll because they need more financial aid.”
The U.S. Supreme Court will rule soon on race-based admissions at the University of Texas at Austin. Many think affirmative action linked to race and ethnicity will be struck down.
Polls show that while most Americans oppose racial or ethnic preferences in college admissions, they also think colleges should give extra help to the poor.
Some states have already banned affirmative action, including California, Florida, Michigan and Washington, and in each of them, the selective public universities stepped up their efforts to recruit disadvantaged students, hoping to enroll more black, Hispanic and American Indian students in the process.
Even in states that have rejected racial preferences, flagship universities “vary widely in how hard they work to identify high-achieving, disadvantaged students and prepare them for college, how heavily they weight disadvantage in admissions, and how generous they are with financial aid,” reports the Times.
More than 40 percent of University of California students qualify for Pell Grants, which go to low- and moderate-income students. That includes 34 percent at Berkeley and 36 percent at UCLA.
At the University of Michigan, also highly selective and banned from considering race, only 16 percent of undergraduates received Pell Grants.
The private sector is less committed to affirmative action in hiring, adds the Times in another story.
“Tens of thousands of qualified low-income students, 30 percent of them racial minorities” don’t apply to elite colleges, according to research by Stanford’s Caroline Hoxby and Harvard’s Christopher Avery. Colleges should recruit low-income high achievers, writes Fordham’s Mike Petrilli in a Bloomberg commentary.
In a follow-up study, Hoxby and a colleague sent college information packets to a random selection of low-income high-achievers. Students who got the information were 80 percent more likely to apply to and gain admission to a selective college than similar students who didn’t get the packet. The mailings cost $6 per student.