NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
ERIC Number: ED555865
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2015
Pages: 60
Abstractor: ERIC
Indicators of Higher Education Equity in the United States: 45 Year Trend Report
Cahalan, Margaret; Perna, Laura
Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education
The U.S. has a core constitutional and founding commitment to equality of opportunity for all citizens. Whether viewed as an end in itself or a means to fostering increased national achievement and competitiveness, the 21st century United States conversation about equity reflects a national consensus about the many benefits of and necessity for postsecondary education for the well-being of individuals and society as a whole. The equity indicators tracked in this report address the following six fundamental questions: (1) Who enrolls in postsecondary education?; (2) What type of postsecondary educational institution do students attend?; (3) Does financial aid eliminate the financial barriers to paying college costs?; (4) How do students in the United States pay for college?; (5) How does bachelor's degree attainment vary by family income?; and (6) How do educational attainment rates in the U.S. compare with rates in other nations? As illustrated by the indicators in this report, higher education outcomes are highly inequitable across family income groups. Moreover, on many of these indicators, gaps in outcomes are larger now than in the past. The disinvestment of state funds for public colleges and universities occurring since the 1980s and the declining value of federal student grant aid have all aided in the creation of a higher education system that is stained with inequality. Once known for wide accessibility to and excellence within its higher education system, the U.S. now has an educational system that serves to sort students in ways related to later life chances based on their demographic characteristics rather than provide all youth with the opportunity to use their creative potential to realize the many benefits of higher education and advance the well-being and progress of the nation. The final section this report contains two essays by the report's co-authors that discuss the policy implications of the equity trends and offers strategic recommendations for fostering greater equity in higher educational attainment in the United States. [This report was written with the assistance of Brittany Ross, Khadish Franklin, Mika Yamashita, and Roman Ruiz.]
Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education. 1025 Vermont Avenue NW Suite 1020, Washington, DC 20005. Tel: 202-638-2887; Fax: 202-638-3808; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Numerical/Quantitative Data; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Postsecondary Education; Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Travelers Foundation
Authoring Institution: Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education; Penn Graduate School of Education (GSE), PennAHEAD
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A