Rural Populations

Children and youth living in rural communities can encounter certain barriers or challenges that affect their education. Students in rural areas can have limited access to coursework, healthcare, and employment opportunities, and face higher levels of poverty compared to children living in suburban or urban areas. Additionally, rural school districts face challenges like limited funding as well as having to serve students across large geographic areas.

  • Over 9 million students were enrolled in rural public elementary and secondary schools in 2013 compared to approximately 40 million students who live in non-rural settings.
  • Approximately 1 in 5 students attend a rural school.
  • In 2016, the poverty rate in metropolitan areas was 12.2%, compared to 15.8% for those living outside of a metropolitan area. 23.5% of non-metro children under 18 lived in poverty in 2016, compared to 18.8% of children living in metro areas.
  • While rural counties make up 63% of all U.S. counties, rural counties make up 68% of counties with higher-than-average food insecurity rates, and 79% of counties with food-insecurity rates that rank in the top 10%.
  • In 2014, 39% of children who live in rural areas not currently enrolled in an afterschool program would be enrolled in a program if one were available.
  • 39% of rural Americans lack access to broadband internet.
  • 29.3% of rural youth age 18-24 are enrolled in undergraduate, graduate, or professional programs, compared to 42.3% of the overall population.


results in E-Bulletin and Rural Populations.
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