2018 Indicators Report Released at National Press Club, Encourages Dialogue among Scholars

June 15, 2018

On May 17, 2018, The Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Education (Pell Institute) of the Council for Opportunity in Education (COE) and the University of Pennsylvania Alliance for Higher Education and Democracy (PennAHEAD), released the Indicators of Higher Education Equity in the United States — 2018 Historical Trend Report at a meeting at the National Press Club. The release featured a panel discussion with Michelle Cooper, President of the Institute for Higher Education Policy; Lorelle Espinosa, Assistant Vice President, Center for Policy Research and Strategy of the American Council on Education; Rodney Hopson, Professor, Division of Educational Psychology, Research Methods, and Education Policy, College of Education and Human Development and Senior Research Fellow, Center for Education Policy and Evaluation at George Mason University; COE President Maureen Hoyler; and Richard Kahlenberg, Senior Fellow at the Century Foundation.

Since 2015, the Indicators Reports have examined trends in higher education in the U.S. through the lens of equity, compiling historical trend data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. Department of Education and other public sources. The 2018 report, for the first time, includes data by state, and also includes statistics on income inequality trends.

The 2018 Indicators report found that low-income, first-generation American students face major barriers, financial, and otherwise, in attending colleges and universities, and those obstacles can vary significantly by state. In addition, while more first-generation college students are enrolling, the nation has not yet achieved equal access to higher education for all citizens regardless of family background or geographic location. These continuing disparities have significant negative consequences on the ability of all citizens to earn a living wage, on our nation’s global competitiveness and contribute to income inequality in the United States.

Some of the key findings:

  • The cost of college is nearly equal to the poorest students’ family income. For students in the lowest quartile of family income, the cost of attending college amounts to 84 percent of family income.
  • College participation among low-income students differ by state. The college participation rate for low-income students ranged from 10 percent in Alaska and 21 percent in Oklahoma and Wyoming, to 50 percent in New Hampshire, 53 percent in New York, and 56 percent in New Jersey.
  • Average college costs vary substantially by state. Average costs in public 2-year colleges range from $1,262 in California to $7,002 in New Hampshire. Public 4-year college costs range from $13,709 in Utah to $26,968 in New Hampshire. Private 4-year costs range from $13,010 in Idaho to $57,363 in Massachusetts.
  • Bachelor’s degree attainment varies by state. Massachusetts, at 51 percent, leads the states in percentage of 25 to 34 year-old population with a bachelor’s or higher degree, while Nevada’s 22 percent is the lowest. The U.S. now has almost as much variation among individual states as among countries in bachelor’s degree attainment of the same age group.
  • College debt has become the norm. By 2012, 70 percent of U.S. graduating college seniors had incurred debt, up from 50 percent of graduating seniors in 1990.

The release of the 2018 report coincided with COE’s May Board Meeting, which enabled the Board of Directors to attend. “The condition of education and the performance of those undertaking post-secondary education is key to our global future,” said COE Board Chair Kaye Monk-Morgan, Assistant Dean for Students, Fairmount College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Wichita State University. “There are indicators that reveal we are making progress while others show that we clearly have a long way to go. The Indicators report is a much needed resource for educators, legislators, and leaders in a multitude of sectors.”

Michelle A. Danvers Foust, COE Past Board Chair and Director of TRIO Pre-Collegiate Programs at Bronx Community College said “The Pell Institute’s Indicators of Higher Education Equity in the United States is a comprehensive research tool that will enable policymakers, educators, and those interested in educational equity in higher education to measure, compare, and contrast equal access to higher education in the United States. The inclusion of state data this year provides further extrapolation of data and the performance of each state, which is critical in the establishment of laws and policies designed to provide equity in higher education for all.”

For more information on the Indicators report or to download a copy, please go to (

Past Presidents Unite for 40th Anniversary of MO-KAN-NE

MMay 7, 2018

On April 4-6, 2018, the MO-KAN-NE (Missouri-Kansas-Nebraska) Chapter of the Educational Opportunity Association (EOA) celebrated its 40th Anniversary at their Annual Conference.

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Students Celebrate National TRIO Day 2018

March 16, 2018

TRIO Day began on February 24, 1986, when a congressional resolution (H. Con. Res. 278) declared that Saturday, February 28, 1986, should be designated as "National TRIO Day" to commemorate the annual achievements of the Federal TRIO programs.

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The University of Connecticut's Center for Academic Programs Celebrates Their 50th Anniversary

January 29, 2018

On October 28, 2017, the University of Connecticut's Center for Academic Programs (CAP) celebrated 50 years of Changing Lives through Educational Access with a gala on the Storrs campus.

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Campuses Celebrate First-Generation Students

November 22 2017

Here are just some of the activities that occurred around the country on November 8, 2017. Check out #celebratefirstgen on social media to learn even more!

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Capitol Hill Celebrates First-Generation College Students

November 13, 2017

On November 8, 2017, the Council for Opportunity in Education, in partnership with NASPA-Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, hosted the first annual celebration of First-Generation College Students on Capitol Hill.

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Morehead State University TRIO Program Helps Incarcerated Students

November 2, 2017

Any criminal conviction puts significant barriers before those wanting to improve their lives. It also reduces the pool of job candidates unnecessarily, according to two women who are working to help former inmates become college-bound students.

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McNair: From Limited Opportunities to Undreamed-of Careers

October 10, 2017

Despite a childhood of limited opportunity, Davarian Baldwin dreamed that he could become a politician or lawyer with predictable success.

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Helping Veterans Make the Most of the G.I. Education Bill

July 21, 2017

Julia Gusse can't tell you much about her service in the United States Air Force. She had top-secret clearance.

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Upward Bound Director of 40 Years Finishes His Career Defending Wittenberg University Program

June 14, 2017

Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity, said the Roman philosopher Seneca. And Eddie Chambers, Upward Bound program director for 40 years at Wittenberg University, was plenty prepared on March 22nd when he landed in Chicago and glanced at his cell phone before making his connecting flight back home to Ohio.

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Penn State's Talent Search Program: Strengthening Schools, Students

May 15, 2017

To sense the passion that Christal Graham-Jones has for her job as a Talent Search counselor, one only has to look at what she calls her "wall of fame," outside her office door at Sharon High School in Pennsylvania.

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TRIO Student Testifies Before Congress

March 31, 2017

Living in Greenville all my life helped me believe in the American Dream. But belief isn't enough. You also need hard work.

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TRIO Helped Homeless Student Succeed; She Helped Shake Up the System

March 14, 2017

After her first year of college, Jessica McCormick got the dreaded letter from the dean: pull your grades up or you'll be dismissed.

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Book Club Blazes Pathways to Leadership

February 27, 2017

"There's something special that happens when you get a group of powerful women in a room... and shut the door," wrote Andrea Wong in the forward of her book, "Secrets of Powerful Women: Leading Change for a New Generation."

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From Homelessness to Entrepreneurship with TRIO as the Spark

January 26, 2017

Ten years ago Hunter Lin was 11 years-old and working two jobs in China. Today he's a graduate nursing student at Johns Hopkins University and founder of a biomedical start-up company that hopes to launch technology at the end of 2017 to change how diseases are diagnosed around in the world. He credits TRIO with giving him a chance.

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As Actress Viola Davis' Star Soars, Others Recall Upward Bound Beginnings

January 3, 2017

When internationally-acclaimed actress Viola Davis gains her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame Jan. 5, two special people will be among the many around the world cheering her on: Her older sister, Deloris Grant, and the sisters' earliest acting coach, Ron Stetson.The federal Upward Bound program links all three.

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