“If you grew up poor, your college degree may be worth less

Denise Cummins:

College graduates from poor families were found to earn 91 percent more over their careers than high school graduates from the same income group. But college graduates from upper-middle-class families earned 162 percent more over their careers than those with just a high school diploma.

Graph courtesy the Brookings Institute. FPL is short for federal poverty level. You can read more about the smaller “bachelor’s bump” here.

Why the difference? Researchers point to disparities in family resources during childhood and the colleges that low-income students attend. Children born to highly educated women receive more of their parents’ time and money than those born to the less well-educated women. They also point out that poor students are more likely to attend lower ranked colleges than rich students. The researchers explicitly assume that this means poor students are receiving lower quality education than their richer peers.