Thursday, May 26, 2011

College admissions and income diversity

In this season of college graduations, David Leonhardt reports on the income distribution of students at selective colleges: Top Colleges, Largely for the Elite

"...a Georgetown University study of the class of 2010 at the country’s 193 most selective colleges. As entering freshmen, only 15 percent of students came from the bottom half of the income distribution. Sixty-seven percent came from the highest-earning fourth of the distribution. These statistics mean that on many campuses affluent students outnumber middle-class students.

“We claim to be part of the American dream and of a system based on merit and opportunity and talent,” Mr. Marx says. “Yet if at the top places, two-thirds of the students come from the top quartile and only 5 percent come from the bottom quartile, then we are actually part of the problem of the growing economic divide rather than part of the solution.”

In case you don't know income quartiles off the top of your head, here they are (in much more detail than just quartiles, estimated for 2011) from the Tax Policy Center. The median income for a married couple filing jointly is estimated to be $75,000, and the 75th percentile is $130,000 (the 99th percentile is $762,000).

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