How Colleges’ Policies Affect the Enrollment of Low-Income Students

The average price low-income students pay after receiving financial aid has a statistically significant influence on their representation at a college, according to a new working paper. But it is hardly the only factor affecting their enrollment.

A college’s cost of attendance, expenditures per student, selectivity, and financial-aid policies also make a difference, according to the paper’s analysis of four-year public and private nonprofit colleges.

The results “suggest that the model of high price-high aid practiced by many private institutions may lead to discouraging more low-income students from enrolling than it does entice them through generous financial-aid packages, at least at private institutions,” the paper says.

The paper, “Institutional Variation in Enrollment of Low-Income Students: The Role of Prices, Financial Aid Policies and Selectivity,” was released  this month by the Cornell Higher Education Research Institute.

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