Common measures don't address access to low-income students, report says

"Accepted methods of measuring whether colleges are providing enough access to low-income students don't take into account the unequal income distribution among the regions from which the institutions traditionally draw, a new analysis in EducationNext contends.

For example, the flagship universities in Connecticut and Illinois draw from pools of students with higher income distributions compared to those in Montana, Maine and New Mexico, the researchers note. Measuring their access by comparing their shares of students who get Pell Grants or who are in the bottom quintile could lead to "penalties for institutions that are actually succeeding in providing opportunities for low-income students and trigger rewards for institutions that are less successful than they might appear," they write."

-James Paterson