In 2014, just one in 10 dependent family members who said they received a bachelor’s degree by the time they were 24 years old came from families in the lowest income quartile.

Marketwatch staffer Jillian Berman taps new Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education and PennAhead data, taking a look at some of the policy implications for the area of higher education. Berman writes that by contrast, 54% of bachelor’s degrees awarded to dependent family members went to those in the highest income quartile:

There are a number of reasons for that gap in college attainment and for why it’s remained so large for so long, said Margaret Cahalan, the director of the Pell Institute. These include rising college costs and growing income inequality, which can make it more difficult for poor students to afford to get through college and move up the economic ladder, she said. “We’ve increased the number and the percentages of students going into college and we’ve narrowed that gap a little bit, but what we haven’t narrowed is bachelor’s degree attainment,” she said.

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