Katie Brazis
June 2017

Best Colleges for Low-Income Students

A college degree can be a magical key to higher earnings, making it especially beneficial for students from low-income families. What describes the American Dream better than a rags-to-riches story?

College creates a sort of equality in its graduates: low-income and high-income students have similar earnings outcomes after graduating from the same college. This level playing field gives low-income students equal chances of ending up in higher income brackets. The economic mobility granted to low-income students is the reason college is necessary in today’s economy.

But how do low-income students maximize that mobility?

It isn’t news that the school you attend affects your earnings after college. Ivy League colleges produce higher earning graduates on average than other colleges. (In fact, Ivy League graduates are earning, on average, double what graduates of other schools are earning 10 years after graduating.) Low-income students who attend Ivy Leagues schools experience greater mobility in earnings than those from other schools.

But the problem is that low-income students are far less likely to attend Ivy League schools, which may be a result of poor communication about financial aid and fear of outrageously high education price tags. Only 3 percent of enrolled students at the nation’s most competitive colleges are from low-income families.

Thankfully, middle-tier colleges, like state colleges, still provide mobility while providing much easier access for low-income students. According to a study from earlier this year called “Mobility Report Cards: The Role of Colleges in Intergenerational Mobility,” the highest rated college for mobility is Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology, followed by CUNY Bernard M. Baruch College and City College of New York.

Ivy League schools don’t fare so well. Even though they provide the most dramatic mobility, the poor accessibility for low-income students means fewer students experience the mobility. The truth is that less selective schools, like state schools, have comparable mobility while offering greater accessibility.


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Katie Brazis

Katie is a Content Coordinator with a BA in English and a Certificate in Editing and Publishing from CSU, Chico, and a Certificate in Copyediting from UC San Diego Extension. In addition to her professional history in editing, she has a deep love of stories. In her free time — when she’s not trying to tame the wild beast she calls her cat — Katie consumes stories in any form. She reads books and watches shows and movies. She plays cooperative games, both video and board, with her husband and friends. When she chooses to venture outside she keeps her phone handy to catch some virtual Pokemon.

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