The Inequality in Education An introduction to the problem many low-income students face nationwide, and how College Pathway hopes to combat it | Written by Ila Prabhuram, Founder of College Pathway

Every year, approximately 1.6 million students drop out of high school.

Low-income students are 5 times less likely to graduate high school when compared to students from higher income backgrounds.

Eighty-four percent of those above the poverty level tested proficient in 12 mathematics; whereas, only 45% of students living in poverty were proficient (U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2007)

Only 9% of the students from low-income families go on to earn a bachelors degree in the future.

The Problem

Imagine having the quality of your education depend on your economic status.

Most people see the elephant and admit that it is difficult to ignore such an all-encompassing issue, but the steps taken only slightly combat the obvious truth that continues to go unaddressed: lower socioeconomic status tends to negatively affect academic success, and students from low-income families do not receive the same quality of education as students from higher-income backgrounds.

Low-income students lack resources and available opportunities that would otherwise allow them to have an equal educational quality compared to the rest of their peers.

Without these resources such as financial aid for college, these students fall down the loophole of 'unawareness' and find themselves stuck. Unable to get out of this 'mess.'

Why is this happening?


Students & Parents from low-income backgrounds are unaware of different resources and opportunities and they lack guidance of how to go about these resources.

I surveyed about 100 of upperclassmen students in my high school (*note that 33% of my school's student body is classified as economically-disadvantaged) and I came about some shocking results: very, very few knew what FAFSA was. Only 2 students, out of those 100, had some idea of how to fill out the FAFSA forms. Everyone else had no idea, and most of them said that they weren't going to apply for it because it was 'too much work.'

Isn't that crazy?

These students, with SO MUCH potential, were evading an opportunity of a lifetime purely because of unawareness.

Unaware of how to go about this resource.

Navigating FAFSA without guidance is one of the many issues low-income students face. My school, along with many, many others across the nation, don't provide guidance and mentorship on how to navigate FAFSA. Therefore, these students' problems go unnoticed, and they lag behind the rest of their peers.

This isn't just a 'my school' problem. This is nationwide problem. But it's going unnoticed.

Those statistics (previously shown) emphasize a direct correlation between low-income students economic status and a quality education.

So what can we do about this?

This is where College Pathway comes in.

College Pathway is a non-for-profit organization dedicated to bridging the gap between low-income students and a quality education. We believe that all students, regardless of their socioeconomic status, race, or ethnicity, deserve the right to a quality education.

The idea for College Pathway came to me after I was exposed to the underlying financial struggles many members of my community faced. After a small fundraiser for a larger organization, I then decided to form my own organization so I could make a direct impact on these students. Because I value my education immensely, and I can't stand to see my fellow students miss out on some incredible opportunities purely because of something they cannot control.


FAFSA Workshops

We conduct FAFSA workshops at high schools to educate high school students on FAFSA and how to apply/ eligibility for financial aid. We work with schools to conduct these workshops and reach as many students as possible. FAFSA Representatives sometimes come and speak to students during these workshops and answer any questions that the students or parents may have. The purpose of these workshops are to eliminate the difficulties and confusion that parents and students normally would have when filling out FAFSA forms.


Advocacy is a huge part of what we do. We advocate the importance of education and different resources, and we speak to representatives, students, and parents about this issue that is prevalent nationwide. Through our campaigning, we have reached hundreds of people. We work to spread awareness about these issues and make students more aware about the resources available to them

However, this is only the beginning.

We are an entirely grassroots-based organization, and our team works every day to ensure that these students are receiving a quality education.

Let's end the inequality together. Join me and College Pathway in our fight for an equal education for all.

Bye- for now,

Ila Prabhuram


Created with images by Tim Gouw - "Full focus at a coffee shop" • Eduardo Dutra - "untitled image"