The Pell Institute publishes research and analyses that address equal educational opportunity, particularly the outcomes for low-income, first-generation, and disabled students. Additional publications include occasional papers, policy briefs, and an electronic newsletter.

Demography Is Not Destiny — Increasing the Graduation Rates of Low-Income College Students at Large Public Universities (.pdf)

What accounts for the differences in retention and graduation rates among large public colleges and universities that serve high numbers of low-income students? To answer this question, the Pell Institute conducted a study to examine the institutional characteristics, practices, and policies that might account for such differences. This study, funded by the Lumina Foundation for Education, continues previous research conducted by the Pell Institute that analyzed retention policies and practices at smaller public and private four-year institutions with high percentages of low-income students.

In this report, we describe differences in institutional policies and practices, as well as commonalities among the higher-performing institutions. We discuss differences between the findings from the previous study (Raising the Graduation Rates of Low-Income College Students) and this one. Finally, we consider if practices aimed at improving overall graduation rates also work for low-income students, and offer recommendations for institutions. It is our hope that the cumulative results of our two studies will be instructive for policymakers and practitioners who seek to improve the chances for success for low-income students in higher education.