A revealing poll conducted by MassINC Polling Group for The Education Trust in Massachusetts uncovers stark contrasts in parental expectations for their children’s higher education, with significant variations across racial and income lines. This poll, focusing on Massachusetts parents of students in grades 6-12, offers a detailed look at the aspirations and concerns shaping today’s educational landscape, reports the Daily Hampshire Gazette.
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- There is a notable gap in expectations for pursuing a bachelor’s degree, with higher expectations among white and Asian parents compared to Latino parents.
- Higher-income families are more likely to anticipate their children attending college, while lower-income families face significant financial barriers.
- Efforts by state policymakers and educational institutions are underway to make higher education more accessible, especially for lower-income families.
The survey results indicate that 57% of parents anticipate their child seeking a bachelor’s degree. Yet, this expectation is unevenly distributed:
“71% of Asian parents responded ‘yes,’ compared to 59% of white parents, 53% of Black parents, and 37% of Latino parents.”
Income plays a pivotal role, with 77% of families earning over $100,000 expecting their children to start a bachelor’s degree, compared to only 26% of those earning below $50,000. Jennie Williamson, state director of The Education Trust in Massachusetts, emphasizes the need for policy action, stating, “We must acknowledge and address the fact that there remain significant gaps in parental expectations and awareness of these pathways, especially among parents who identify as Latino/a/x and low-income.”
Tuition is a Major Hurdle
Tuition fees are a significant concern, with 68% of parents identifying them as a worry. The poll generally shows that
“Low-income families are especially worried about the price of college applications and books.”
In response, the Board of Higher Education and Governor Maura Healey have focused on making higher education more affordable. The administration highlighted that the MASSGrantPlus expansion, part of the state budget, “would benefit 25,000 students, including making tuition and fees free for Pell Grant-eligible students.”
Access to resources was also highlighted as another place for disparities. Only 55% of parents are aware of their child’s school offering AP courses, with lower awareness among Latino and Black parents. Moreover, there’s a gap in knowledge about the financial aid process, particularly among low-income families.
Push for FAFSA Completion
Representative Andy Vargas has been active in promoting the completion of the FAFSA form, essential for accessing financial aid, by Massachusetts students before high school graduation.
“FAFSA played a critical role for me in going to college,” Vargas said, stressing the importance of not “leaving higher ed funding on the table and deferring their college dreams.”
Despite some setbacks, efforts continue to ensure students are informed and prepared for college funding opportunities.
This comprehensive poll highlights the urgent need for targeted policies and practices to ensure equitable access to higher education. By addressing these disparities, Massachusetts aims to create a more inclusive educational environment where every student’s aspirations can be realized, regardless of their background.
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