Valencia College is one of five cutting-edge colleges and universities that was featured in an August special on “PBS NewsHour,” as a team of PBS reporters examined how some schools are trying to close the “graduation gap” between well-to-do students and students from low-income families.
Although the number of Americans who enroll in college has grown dramatically over the past 40 years, the percentage of students who actually earn a college credential by the age of 24 has not. The only significant increase has been for families with the highest household incomes.
Between 1970 and 2013, the percent of students earning college credentials from families with incomes in the top quarter of all household rose from 40 to 77 percent.
For students from families in the lowest quarter of all households, attainment of a college credential rose from 6 percent to 9 percent.
Every night for a week, the PBS NewsHour examined efforts on campuses across the country — from the University of Texas at Austin to Valencia College in Orlando — focused not just getting more low-income, first-generation students into college, but through college to a useful credential.