Our Economically Polarized College System: Separate and Unequal

Our Economically Polarized College System: Separate and Unequal 1

Randy Lyhus for The Chronicle

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Randy Lyhus for The Chronicle

A college education is increasingly the only path to middle-class earnings. In 1970, 74 percent of workers with a high-school education or less were part of the middle class—earning between $30,000 and $85,000 in current dollars. By 2007 that number had dwindled to 39 percent. Over the same period, people with college degrees either stayed in the middle class or moved into the upper class.

Students and parents recognize that postsecondary education has become the arbiter of