College Participation Rates for Low Income Students
We have just updated through 2003-04 our calculations of college participation rates for students from low income family backgrounds. This rate is the ratio of dependent Pell Grant recipients by state of residence to 4th to 9th graders approved for free or reduced-price school lunches nine years earlier. The time series of available data span the years 1992-93 through 2003-04.
For the U.S. college participation rate for students from low income families was 27.1 percent in 2003-04. This was up from 24.7 percent in 2002-03 and 22.2 percent in 2001-02. In fact the 2003 rate was the highest over this time span.
The states with the highest rates were: Iowa (43.7%), North Dakota (43.2%), Montana (38.1%), Utah (37.7%), Nebraska (27.1%) and Minnesota (34.5%). This list affirms my long held view that life is so boring here in the upper Midwest that going to school is the highlight of the day for most children. Focusing attention on school is certainly helped by the absence of ocean beaches, ski slopes and big cities--especially when the temperature outside is below freezing for a good part of the school year.
The states with the lowest college participation rates for students from low income families in 2003-04 are: Louisiana (13.0%), Alaska (13.5%), Mississippi (14.6%), District of Columbia (15.1%), Texas (16.1%), Tennessee (16.5%) and South Carolina (16.8%).