Access and Affordability Limiting Equitable College Enrollment, Achievement in Chicago Region
Ashmar Mandou - Lawndale News
College enrollment and completion in the Chicago area is being limited by access and cost issues tied to race, family wealth and income, and the availability of financial aid, according to a new report released today by the Partnership for College Completion (PCC). The report, College-Going and Completion in the Chicago Area: A Regional Analysis, breaks ground in examining enrollment, attainment, and completion in the seven-county metropolitan Chicago area, using a number of sources including a unique regional analysis of data from financial aid applicants. The report finds that despite a diverse pool of more than 70,000 college-going applicants from this region every year, more than 40 percent of whom are Black or Latino, the local four-year public universities together produced only 2,600 degrees for students of color in 2017. PCC urges administrators, educators and policymakers to prioritize higher education access and affordability with a concentration on equity to ensure the future prosperity of the region and state.
College-Going and Completion in the Chicago Area focuses on the students from and attending college in the Midwest's hub of economic opportunity, where two decades of state disinvestment in students and institutions has affected the seven-county region's 54 public and private nonprofit two- and four-year colleges and the 319,000 undergraduate students they enroll. As a result, the report finds high prices for four-year colleges and declining numbers of students attending college in the region or deciding not to pursue higher education at all, together underscoring the challenge of wide access to high-quality postsecondary opportunities. The report proposes bold equity-focused policy ideas that include: revising college admissions standards to increase the weight of GPA over ACT/SAT test scores, which disadvantage low-income students and students of color; restoring full funding of the Monetary Award Program (MAP), which provides grants to low-income students and now covers only two-thirds of the cost of attendance at community colleges and one-third of the cost at public universities for less than half of eligible students; and, stopping the flow of state aid to for-profit colleges.