Lower income families still struggling to get children into higher education

While some Atlantic provinces have seen substantial increases in the numbers of youth from lower-income families attending college or university, P.E.I. has not.

The news comes from a report on post-secondary enrolment based on parental income from Statistics Canada, released Monday.

The report found that overall the percentage of 19-year-olds from P.E.I. in higher education is increasing. It was just over 50 per cent in 2001, and reached more than 63 per cent in 2014. That number includes students enrolled in schools both on- and off-Island.

But it also found the proportion of students from lower income families is stagnating.

The report compared the number of students from families in the top 20 per cent of earners to the number of students from families in the bottom 20 per cent. It set that ratio at 100 for 2001.

That index fell in P.E.I. to 92 in 2014, averaging just over 100 from 2010-14. Nova Scotia was the only province in Atlantic Canada with a worse record, with an index averaging just under 98 over those five years.

By contrast, Newfoundland and Labrador and New Brunswick both averaged more than 110.

Nationally the situation is improving for lower-income families, but the proportion of students from higher income families in post-secondary education is still much higher. In 2014, 79 per cent of 19-year-olds from higher income families were in post-secondary, but just 47 per cent from lower-income families.

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