In the New York Review of Books, Andrew Delbanco argues that the historical story of expanding opportunities through higher education in the United States has “stalled.” Both public and private universities are increasingly less able to provide significant financial support for low-income students. As the chart below shows, lack of family financial backing can make it more difficult for those students to graduate.
Colleges and universities cannot be expected to solve America’s problems of inequity. They cannot repair broken families, or make up for learning deficits incurred early in childhood, or “level the playing field” for students with inadequate preparation. But they should be expected to try to mitigate these problems rather than worsen them—and one main reason they are failing to do so is their relentlessly rising cost.