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Friday, 1 December, 2000, 20:20 GMT
College education depends on address
Survey says costs and opportunities vary widely
The chance of getting a university education in America is heavily dependent upon which state prospective students live in, researchers say.

A survey by the independent National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education found that almost two in every five young people aged 18 to 24 in California were enrolled in higher education, compared with just one in five in Nevada.

Geography, wealth, income, and ethnicity still play far too great a role in determining the educational life chances of Americans

James B Hunt Jnr, National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education
In Delaware, 6.3% of 25 to 44 year olds were enrolled in college-level education on a part-time basis, but in Montana, only 1.8% were signed up.

The study suggests that students in some states have to borrow more to finance their college years.

In Massachusetts, the average student loan is $4,719 a year (3,285) - but in Minnesota, the average is $3,168 (2,205).

In New York, tuition at public four-year colleges and universities requires more than a third of family income, whereas in Illinois it accounts for about a quarter.


The report, Measuring Up 2000, also suggests that family income and ethnic background play a major role in determining college opportunities.

In California, for example, 58% of 18 to 24 year olds from high-income families are at university, compared with 33% from low-income families.

The chair of the centre's board of directors, James B Hunt Jnr, said the findings were worrying.

"Despite the accomplishments of American higher education, its benefits are unevenly and often unfairly distributed and do not reflect the distribution of talent in America," he said.

"Geography, wealth, income, and ethnicity still play far too great a role in determining the educational life chances of Americans."

Impetus for state leaders

The president of the centre, Patrick Callan, said he hoped the findings would be an impetus for state leaders to address some of the higher education policy challenges they faced.

"Certainly there is no single blueprint that can ensure that a state will excel in higher education," he said.

The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education was established in 1998 with the aim of increasing opportunity and achievement for all those in America who aspire to get into higher education.

It is not affiliated to any higher education institution, political party, or government agency.

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