Report Cites Low-Income Students' Success at Small Private Colleges

April 23, 2015

Nonwealthy private colleges are often left out of the discussion about how low-income students can get access to and succeed in higher education, with policy makers putting most of their focus on the institutions that disproportionately enroll those students (community colleges and for-profit institutions) and those that they think should enroll more -- flagship public and wealthy private universities. That rankles officials at small private colleges, who argue that their institutions provide more access to those students (and turn them out with better outcomes) than do many other types of colleges.

A group representing those institutions, the Council of Independent Colleges, makes that case formally in a report released Wednesday. The association's report presents data showing that small and midsize private colleges enroll first-generation and low-income students at higher proportions than do public and private research universities, and that those students are likelier to graduate from the private institutions than they are from public doctoral universities. The report also urges school counselors to encourage more students to attend "the institutions where they are most likely to flourish, namely, smaller private colleges," and asks state and federal policy makers to recognize the role these institutions play as they allocate financial aid and other dollars to maximize student success in college.

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