We all benefit when everyone has the opportunity to pursue their educational dreams, and education is often called the great equalizer. But what if institutions of higher education are actually complicit in maintaining the very inequalities they claim to remedy? In fact, it can be argued that the current system stacks the deck in favor of advantaged students. Only 19 percent of Black and Latino students with high SAT scores go to selective institutions, compared to 31 percent of white students with similar scores. Merit-based aid is often doled out to the most affluent students, while those who rely on need-based aid struggle to pay tuition and other education-related costs each semester.
At the same time, government funding for public colleges and universities is flat or falling, widening the gap between our most prestigious colleges and universities and those that serve higher percentages of lower-income students. And public funding for need-based aid in states like Ohio remains inadequate, leaving too many students unable to achieve their educational goals.
The COVID-19 pandemic has many U.S. colleges and universities facing deep cuts or even closure. But schools with money and prestige — schools known for catering to privileged students — are not struggling like so many other institutions. Forty-three percent of prospective students for one- and two-year programs beginning in 2021 report delaying enrollment, and low-income students of color are most likely to abandon their college plans completely. As higher education responds to this pandemic, it is increasingly clear that it will take intentional effort to ensure college becomes the beacon of opportunity it claims to be.
Join us for a discussion about how to create equitable access to higher education, especially through the COVID-19 crisis.
The livestream will be available beginning at 12:30 p.m. Have questions? Tweet them at @TheCityClub or send a text to 330.541.5794.
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