State flagship universities are facing an identity crisis. Will they continue a historic dedication to economic equity, or will they become instruments of social stratification?
Although the admissions practices of private selective colleges are frequently featured in media coverage, public flagship universities enroll seven times as many Pell Grant recipients. However, these "engines of social mobility" are increasingly crowding out high-achieving, low-income students.
The Great Recession brought dramatic cuts to higher education appropriations and in response, flagship universities are enrolling more out-of-state students. These students offset university budgets by paying higher tuition but often, they demonstrate lower academic achievement and higher participation in partying.