College economic mobility report cards

Posted by Equality of Opportunity Project on August 21, 2017

Which colleges in America help the most children climb the income ladder?

We take a step toward answering this question by constructing mobility report cards – statistics on students’ earnings and their parents’ incomes – for each college in America.

Access to colleges varies substantially across the income distribution. At Ivy League colleges such as Columbia University, more students come from families in the top 1% of the income distribution than the bottom half of the income distribution.

Children from low-income families have nearly the same odds of reaching the top fifth of the income distribution as their peers from higher-income families at selective colleges, indicating that children from low-income backgrounds admitted to selective colleges are not over-placed at these schools.

Some colleges, such as SUNY-Stony Brook, have a much larger fraction of children from low-income families yet have earnings outcomes that are nearly comparable to those at highly selective colleges such as Columbia. These colleges have very high mobility rates — they have large numbers of students who come from poor families and end up with high incomes.

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