The Ivy Coach Daily

October 9, 2021

Middle-Income Students Applying to Brown

Brown claims to want to attract more middle-income students (photo credit: Chensiyuan).

Our nation’s most elite universities have no shortage of students from high-income families. But tell us something we don’t know, Ivy Coach! We’ve all seen the names on the buildings around campuses. We’ve all heard about the large donations some members of society’s upper crust make to these institutions. And yet these schools also go to great lengths to attract students from low-income families. From announcing need-blind admissions policies to admitting lots of students from QuestBridge, low-income students are in demand at our nation’s most sought after institutions. But what about the students who fall squarely in the middle? What if these students’ parents make too much money to qualify for financial aid but not really enough money to subsidize an Ivy League education? Many of these students choose not to apply to schools like Brown University out of fear their parents won’t be able to cover the cost of their education. Brown, aware of this trend, is trying to address it — or at least suggesting as much.

In a piece by Will Kubzansky for The Brown Daily Herald entitled “U. administration seeks to address lack of middle-income applicants,” “The problem, [Dean of Admission Logan] Powell said, begins at the outset of their application process when ’highly qualified’ middle-income students just aren’t applying as often as their peers from other income brackets. To remedy this, the Office of Admission has created ’heat maps’ indicating where most of the University’s current middle-income students apply from. That data is overlaid with where middle-income students live across the country. The goal, Powell explained, is to figure out where more prospective applicants may live — both from the areas that provide applicants to the University and the areas that rarely do. The maps, which go down to the ZIP code and individual school level, show that most of the University’s middle-income students come from the same places as most of its other applicants: the Boston-to-D.C. corridor, hubs in the Midwest and Sun Belt and up and down the Pacific coast. And they also show areas from which the University receives few applicants, but where high numbers of qualified moderate-income students reside, such as Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin. The maps, when all taken together, may indicate regions where the University might want to strengthen its efforts, Powell said.”

It will be interesting to see in the years ahead if Brown and other Ivy League schools are able to secure more middle-income students. We know they have no problem attracting the children of the 1%. We know they make great efforts to attract low-income students — and they’re quite successful at this endeavor. But just how will they make up for the disparity with respect to the dearth of middle-income students on these campuses? Will the heats maps by zip code that Brown is using really work? Stay tuned and find out!

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