Financing the Pipeline

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) just released a report, A Profile of Successful Pell Grant Recipients.  A couple of  highlights from the study:

  • In addition, a larger percentage of Pell Grant recipients than nonrecipients came from non-English-speaking households, and a larger proportion were Black, Hispanic, Asian, American Indian, or from other racial/ethnic backgrounds other than White. Also, a larger proportion of Pell Grant recipients than nonrecipients were women.
  • In addition, after controlling for parent’s education and racial/ethnic background, no measurable differences were observed in the median time to degree between Pell Grant recipients and nonrecipients if they were Black or Hispanic, or had parents who did not graduate from college.

I find the second conclusion above somewhat significant. The issue I have with these type conclusions is that it assumes all data, from college graduates in this case, is based on an equal footing in the system. In the case of Hispanic college students, the report does not recognize the uneven distribution of Hispanic students within the college system. The second conclusion is very broad and gives one the idea that aside from the controlled variables, all college experiences are the same. Close to half  of Hispanic college students attend only 22 institutions of higher learning (excluding Puerto Rican schools). 

Given that the dispersion of Hispanic students is concentrated in such a small number of colleges, I doubt the same results if the study were focused on HACU, HBU, or women colleges. This is an informative report but too often results that reveal the status of Hispanic, other minorities, or women college graduates evolve by studying the majority of college student experiences.