Ivy league schools must reach out to high-achieving minorities

Christine Neak, Staff Writer

Ivy League schools enroll top-notch students from around the world — but exactly who are these students and how did they come to be there in the first place?

Low income students who are high achieving and college-bound most certainly applauded Harvard University’s plan to give free tuition for undergraduate students but Ivy League schools as a whole need to do a better job at recruiting these students.

According to a survey by “The Harvard Crimson,” the daily student newspaper, 53 percent of this year’s freshmen come from families making at least $125,000 a year, and 29 percent are from families making at least $250,000.

“US News & World Report” states that many Ivy League schools — including Harvard, Columbia and Princeton — have increased the upper end of the “low-income” designation to above the average salary in the United States, which is about $50,000.

Thirty-eight percent of this year’s applications were submitted by students of color (African American, Latino, Native American or Asian).

The bad news about financial aid and scholarships at Ivy League schools is that they are entirely need-based.  Ivy League schools are prohibited from offering athletic scholarships and none of the schools offer merit-based or talent-based awards.

A recent study from the National Bureau of Economic Research reveals the vast majority of very high-achieving students who are low-income do not apply to any selective college or university.  Those high achieving low-income students who do apply to selective institutions and who are admitted graduate at high rates.

Smart low-income students choose not to apply to Ivy league schools because they know that they can’t afford the tuition.  But they do not realize the opportunities that are given to them despite their family’s income levels.

“We try to get the word  out about different programs such as QuestBridge which give full rides to Ivy League schools,” Career Center Janet Hobart said.  “We had one young lady who went to Yale through this program.”

One reason that Ivy League schools should make more of an effort to recruit lower income students who are college-bound is that some students are not aware of the types of financial aid available to them.

To encourage more high achieving low-income students to apply, Harvard University President Drew Faust announced on September 20 this year that incoming undergraduate students from low-income families — those earning $60,000 per year or less — will receive free tuition.

In the announcement, Faust said that Ivy League schools need to do better at recruiting low-income students.

“When only 10 percent of the students in elite higher education come from families in the lower half of the income distribution, we are not doing enough,” Faust said in the announcement.  “We are not doing enough in bringing elite higher education to the lower half of the income distribution.”

Although Ivy League schools are beginning to see the value in recruiting low-income students, more effort is needed to attract students to these elite programs.