Report Shows Low-Income Adults Are Not Able to Pursue College Education


Washington, DC -- (ReleaseWire) -- 07/23/2007 -- A report was released this week that shows low-income working adults are less likely to gain college educations than their higher-income counterparts.

According to the report by the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP), entitled “College Access for the Working Poor: Overcoming Burdens to Succeed in Higher Education,” college is out of reach for many adults who fall into the category of poor working adults.

The U.S. Census Bureau suggests that poor working adults can be defined as those “who worked but who nevertheless fell under the official definition of poverty”; those “who were in poverty and had at least one working family member”; and “people who may not necessarily be in poverty according to the official measure of poverty, but who fall below some percentage of the poverty level,” according to the IHEP report. The report shows that nearly 20 million Americans fit into this category.

According to the report, with the average cost of attending college close to $13,000, poor working adults who earned an average of $19,000 a year in 2005 could not afford to pursue college education. Even with the assistance of financial aid, many times the price is just too high for prospective students who fall under the poor-working-adult category.

The report found that many poor working adults who go to college must keep working full-time jobs, which leads many to enroll in school part-time. The IHEP reports that although this choice “offers a more financially viable option for many working poor adults, it likely impacts the amount of grants for which these students qualify and is associated with lower degree attainment.” For example, in 2003–2004, 47% of working poor adults were enrolled in higher education half-time or less. The report also showed that family responsibilities kept poor working adults from attending school full-time.

To balance the preceding factors, the report suggests providing tax relief to working poor students, increasing eligibility for working independent students, assisting students on the weekends with financial aid counseling, and other student services.

“It’s important that students in all social classes have the same opportunities to pursue college degrees,” said EdFed customer service manager Jodie Corzano. “It’s our goal at EdFed to assist all students in realizing this dream.”

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