Hispanic-Serving Institutions Offer High Economic Mobility


A recently published report from think tank Third Way, based in Washington, DC, shows that Hispanic-serving universities provide students more opportunity for economic mobility than other universities in the US.

The report (www.thirdway.org/report/out-with-the-old-in-with-the-new-rating-higher-ed-by-economic-mobility) attempted to devise a new way to rank universities throughout the country, placing particular emphasis on the economic benefits students gain from attending a given university rather than on factors like the university’s selectivity. Noting that the current mainstream university-ranking methodologies are not effective at truly measuring a university’s quality, the researchers at Third Way developed the Economic Mobility Index.

“Historical prestige tends to outweigh student outcomes in the most popular rankings, resulting in the same highly selective and well-resourced schools getting shuffled around the best colleges lists year after year,” the report reads.

The top ten schools ranked according to their Economic Mobility Index were all Hispanic-serving institutions, meaning that at least 25% of the student body identifies as Hispanic.

“Notably, the schools shown to provide the most economic mobility are all Hispanic-serving institutions located in California, Texas, and New York,” the report reads.

The Economic Mobility Index takes into account several different factors, such as the number of students who receive Pell Grants and the amount of time it takes the average low-income student to recoup from the cost of education after graduation. The highest ranked school on Third Way’s ranking system was California State University–Los Angeles (CSULA).

One factor the researchers considered in their ranking system was the “price-to-earnings premium for low-income students” (PEP). This is determined by calculating the average net price of the university along with the typical earnings a student will receive after graduation and the average salary of a high school graduate, in order to determine roughly how long it will take for students to earn back the cost of attending the university after graduation.

While many large private schools like Duke and Stanford were shown to have a strong PEP, they fell behind in part due to the fact that they do not enroll a particularly large number of low-income students (for example, roughly 13% of Duke’s students receive Pell Grants, while nearly 70% of CSULA’s students do).

“If the primary purpose of postsecondary education is supposed to be to catalyze an increase in economic mobility for students, we need to elevate the schools that are actually succeeding in this goal,” Third Way’s director of education, Nicole Siegel, told NBC News. Andrew Warner



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