Public colleges are acting, too. Georgia Tech, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Columbia University and Carleton College have all stepped up efforts in recent years to attract more rural students, Belkin reports. "In January, the North Carolina university system approved a plan to increase enrollment of rural students by 11 percent by 2021. Princeton University has expanded its ROTC class and this year is reinstating a transfer program that includes community colleges—both of which disproportionately help students from rural backgrounds."
It's a problem that needed addressing. "The education gap between rural and urban residents has been growing for decades," Belkin notes. "Though college attendance has risen for both groups, the rural rise has been smaller, and the gap has more than doubled—from seven points in 1980 to 16 points by 2015. Meanwhile, multiple studies have shown admissions biases against rural students with financial needs."