The Indicators of Higher Education Equity in the United States: 2020 Historical Trend Report

This 2020 Indicators Report and the earlier reports compile historical statistical data from the nationally representative government statistics including the Census Bureau household studies and the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)-sponsored high school and college longitudinal studies.

2020 Historical Trend Report

Indicators of Higher Education Equity in the United States

These series track college entrance and completion by family income, socioeconomic status, and race/ethnicity. The 2018 to 2020 Indicator reports also include data on state variation in related statistics. The Indicators Reports present data as far back as comparable data warrant, often beginning with 1970. Methodological appendices provide additional relevant notes, tables, and figures.

In-light of the public health COVID-19 pandemic which has upended much of everyone’s lives in the spring of 2020, a concluding “What Does it Mean?” section to the 2020 report, includes two new essays entitled:

  • Will the Dual Crises of Climate Change and the COVID-19 Pandemic be Portals to Widening Opportunity or Will the Doors Close Even Tighter? Strategies for a More Equitable, Resilient, and Ecologically Sustainable US Higher Education System, and
  • Where Do We Go from Here? Reflections on the Impact of COVID-19 and Higher Education from Two Recent TRIO Graduates


The Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education of the Council for Opportunity in Education (COE) and the University of Pennsylvania Alliance for Higher Education and Democracy (PennAHEAD) announce the release of Indicators of Higher Education Equity in the United States: 2020 Historical Trend Report.

The purposes of this equity indicators project are to:

  • Report the status of higher education equity in the United States and identify changes over time in measures of equity
  •  Identify policies and practices that promote and hinder progress
  • Illustrate the need for increased support of policies, programs, and practices that improve overall attainment in higher education and create greater equity in higher education opportunities and outcomes.

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The Pell Institute shares the mission of the Council to advance and defend the ideal of equal opportunity in postsecondary education.

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