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Percentage of Students Entering and Completing College, and College Persistence, by Income Quartile

Martha Bailey and Susan Dynarski drew from the NLSY97 to examine the percentage of individuals from the 1979-82 birth cohorts entering and completing college by income quartiles. Not only do children from the top quartile enter college at a significantly higher rate than those in the bottom income quartile (80% of high SES vs. 29% of low SES), but they also complete college at much higher rates (54% compared to only 9%). This leads to a college persistence rate (the college completion percentage as a ratio of the college entry percentage) that is more than double for those in the top 25% compared to the bottom 25% (67.5% vs. 31%). as a result of this difference in college persistence, even if strides were made to equalize college entry, there would still be sizeable SES disparities in college completion.