Massachusetts parents report stark disparities in post-secondary planning knowledge across race and income

Massachusetts parents from different racial, income and education backgrounds have widely disparate information on resources and opportunities when it comes to higher education, according to a new MassINC poll.

“As state policymakers work to expand and improve postsecondary pathways for students, 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,” said Jennie Williamson, director of The Education Trust in Massachusetts.

The poll, which was conducted by MassINC and released by the Education Trust in Massachusetts, surveyed a sample of 1,018 Massachusetts parents with students in grades 6 through 12 over the fall. Questions focused on post-secondary education planning, including parental knowledge, high school preparation and vocational school options.

The poll found more than half of parents say their child is interested in pursuing a bachelors degree after high school.

By demographic group, though, the percentage of parents who are White, 59%; Asian, 71%; and advanced degree-holders, 89%, skews higher.

In contrast, the percentage of parents who are Latino, 37%; low-income, 26%; and have up to a high school education, 29%, is substantially lower.

These disparities are closely reflected in metrics like parents who say they know a “great deal” or “fair amount” about the college admissions process and financial aid process. About 2/3 of all parents say they know at least a fair amount about college admissions, while just over half said the same about financial aid.

Parents broadly expressed concerns about the cost of college, with 68% concerned about tuition and 58% concerned about room and board. Half of lower-income parents also cited concerns about college applications and books costs as barriers.

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