Release of the 2019 Indicators of Higher Education Equity Report

May 23, 2019

The Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education and The Alliance for Higher Education and Democracy at the University of Pennsylvania (PennAHEAD) released Indicators of Higher Education Equity in the United States — 2019 Historical Trend Report on Thursday, May 23, at the National Press Club. The 2019 report is the fifth in a yearly series with the goal of using historical data to foster a system of higher education that provides an equity of opportunity for everyone.

The first report in the series, in 2015, focused on measures of equity in higher education based on family income. Starting in 2016, the report also included indicators focused on differences by race/ethnicity and socio-economic status. The 2018 report added data on higher education equity by state. The 2019 report continues the use of state data, which the report authors believe is important because of the marked differences by state in historical, demographic, economic, and political characteristics, as well as the characteristics of their K-12 and higher education systems.

Although there have been some improvements, the 2019 report shows persisting inequity in higher education opportunity based on family income, race/ethnicity, parent education, and geographic location. The report examines six Equity Indicators — who enrolls in postsecondary education, what type of postsecondary educational institution do students attend, does financial aid eliminate the financial barriers to paying college costs, how do students in the United States pay for college, how do educational attainment rates and early outcomes vary by family characteristics, and how does educational attainment in the U.S. compare with other countries — to see in which areas progress is being made, and where great disparities still exist.

Presenters/Dialogue Facilitators included:


  • Margaret Cahalan, Director of the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education & Vice President for Research Council for Opportunity in Education
  • Laura W. Perna, Executive Director, Alliance for Higher Education and Democracy (AHEAD) & James S. Riepe Professor, University of Pennsylvania
  • Tiffany Jones, Director of Higher Education Policy, Education Trust
  • Andre Perry, David M. Rubenstein Fellow-Metropolitan Policy Program, The Brookings Institution
  • Mamie Voight, Vice President of Policy Research, Institute for Higher Education Policy
  • Sophia Berg, Alumna, Upward Bound (Hibbing Community College), Harvard University, Class of 2019
  • Chay’Vion Moore, Alumnus, Student Support Services, North Central Texas College, Class of 2019
  • Ashley Minter, Alumna, Student Support Services, Rider University, Class of 2019


To watch a video of the event click here to watch on our YouTube channel.

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