Rutgers-Newark Ranks Among Nation's Top Schools for Success of Low-Income Graduates

NEWARK, NJ — Rutgers University-Newark is among the nation's top institutions with a high percentage of low-income students for “return on investment," according to a new report by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.

Rutgers-Newark ranked first among schools where 50% or more students are Pell Grant-eligible, 14th among public schools and 75th among all institutions, including those without a high proportion of Pell students. About one-third of college students nationwide are eligible for Pell Grants, but with 59% of its undergraduates Pell-eligible, Rutgers-Newark made an impact on increasing student earnings.

“This study highlights a critically important way of looking at the quality of higher education institutions: how well we facilitate social mobility,” said Rutgers-Newark Chancellor Nancy Cantor.

The study used eligibility for federal Pell Grants, which are awarded to students with high financial need, as an indicator of low-income status. Additionally, the study considered the percentage of schools’ Pell-eligible students and calculated return on investment as the number of income graduates are projected to earn over a 40-year period compared to the amount spent on college.

Students who earn bachelor’s degrees are expected to have higher lifetime earnings, lower odds of unemployment, and better health outcomes than non-college graduates, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Students also live longer, pay more in taxes, divorce less frequently, and are more likely to vote and to volunteer, according to the Hechinger Report.

While data links students' personal and professional successes to earning a bachelor's degree, low-income students are often shut out from this opportunity.

Low-income students are far less likely to obtain a bachelor’s degree than students with more resources, according to a 2021 Center on Education and the Workforce report. Among Americans in the top 60% of earners, 47% have at least a bachelor’s degree, compared to 20% from the bottom 40% of earners.

The same study showed that helping low-income students complete college at rates equal to their higher-income peers would collectively benefit society. According to the study, $956 billion annually would be realized through a combination of boosts to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product, higher tax revenue, increased spending on goods and services, reduced need for public assistance programs, lower incarceration rates, and lower spending on public health.

The recent Georgetown report highlights a trend in college rankings to recognize the importance of social mobility in assessing colleges and universities. Rutgers-Newark has consistently ranked among the best universities in the nation both for social mobility and overall by Washington Monthly. In 2021, Rutgers-Newark ranked fifth for social mobility and 31st overall nationwide.

US News & World Report also now includes a measure for social mobility, in which Rutgers-Newark places third among all national universities.

“By focusing on how effective colleges and universities are at cultivating talented students to get from point A to point B, it underscores the actual impact that institutions have on students and the vital role we play as a public good by fostering individual and collective prosperity," said Cantor. "At a time when inequality in the U.S. is among the worst globally and is at the root of so much of the social divisiveness we see today, there is hardly a more important measure of quality.”

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published this page in News and Politics 2022-02-10 03:18:55 -0800