Atlanta: Taking in a sunny day on campus, some Georgia Tech students walked to class, others rode along the bricks of the Georgia Tech Plaza in front of the Kessler Campanile outside the Student Center Commons on Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016. JOHN SPINK /JSPINK@AJC.COM
Photo: JOHN SPINK / AJC/JOHN SPINK / AJC
Photo: JOHN SPINK / AJC/JOHN SPINK / AJC

Study: More middle-income students squeezed from top colleges

Students from middle-income families are finding it more difficult to get accepted to the nation’s most selective colleges and universities, according to a study released Thursday.

The report by the American Enterprise Institute found about 32 percent of students at the nation’s most selective schools are middle-income. That’s down from about 40 percent about a decade ago, the institute found.

“[I]t is middle-income students, not low-income students, who are becoming less represented on these campuses,” the study said.

Emory University and Georgia Tech were among the 200 selective schools researched for the report.

About half of the students in those schools are from upper-income families, which was defined as those with annual household incomes exceeding about $99,000. The percentage of low-income students has increased from about 15 percent to nearly 25 percent, according to the study, as many of those schools offer more financial aid for those students. Low-income families were defined as less than about $26,000.

College costs have skyrocketed in the last decade, which may be a reason for the enrollment decline among middle-income students. The study found some middle-income families are paying substantially more for college, about $3,400 more after inflation since 2000.

“The middle class may be far more susceptible to the trends and practices that observers worried would shut low-income students out of selective colleges,” the report said.

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