The Access Problem

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Many elite institutions of higher education are taking action to make their financial aid policies for students from low-income families more generous. That's nice to see, but as Kevin Carey argues it's also a bit besides the point: "The problem with this narrative is the implication that the socioeconomic makeup of a given college is primarily a function of who chooses to apply to go there. It's not. It's a function of who the college chooses to let in."

A combination of the fact that low-income kids tend to be poorly served by the country's primary and secondary school systems, plus the fact that college admissions procedures give a lot of advantages to people from privileged backgrounds, makes it very difficult for the poor to get accepted into selective schools. Consequently, the schools can afford to be generous to low income students in part because there are so few eligible people being admitted.

Photo by Flickr user Jos Shlabotnik used under a Creative Commons license

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Matthew Yglesias is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

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