Ensuring Equity: Policy Recommendations to Increase the Diversity of Selective Public Institutions of Higher Education

Not all institutions of higher education are equal—in their funding, resources, or student outcomes. Selective public institutions, typically defined as those with lower acceptance rates and high graduation rates compared to other public institutions, often offer the best odds for their students to succeed. Enrollment at selective institutions is correlated with student success, including higher graduation rates and expected earnings for the students that attend them. But access to these opportunities is not equal. The share of low-income, Black, and Latinx students at selective public institutions is disproportionately low, with low-income students comprising only 8.1 percent of enrollment and Black and Latinx students making up 19 percent (while being 36 percent of the total college-aged population in the United States). If students of color and low-income students cannot access an education from a selective public institution, they lose out on a significant opportunity for upwards economic and social mobility.

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