HBCUs Nearly Double Social Mobility Potential of PWIs

Access for students from low-income families is essential to closing gaps in education, earnings.

A new study from the Brookings Institute reveals that historically black colleges and universities, on average, nearly double the capacity of predominantly white institutions in helping minority and low-income students achieve higher socio-economic status.

The contribution of historically black colleges and universities to upward mobility | Brookings Institution

Using data from the Equality of Opportunity Project, a formula measuring the admission and graduation rates of low-income students factored with accompanying income records, shows that HBCUs are among the nation’s most effective institutions at helping large percentages of students go from low-earning families to middle and high-earning households after graduation.

The report has spurred analysis in the New York Times, suggesting that enrollment at more than 30 of the nation’s elite institutions is predominantly made up of students from households earning $600,000 annually, while access to students from homes earning $65,000 or less is declining.

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Part of the disparity in social mobility can be attributed to the number of total students from low-income households admitted to HBCUs which far-outpaces trends at highly-selective institutions. While Ivy League and elite public schools do a better job of social mobility for low-income students, their rigorous admission standards yield far fewer students who go on to earn more annually than their parents or guardians.

Washington Monthly, which annually factors social mobility and service among its ranking formula for colleges and universities, last year ranked Florida A&M University among the nation’s top 100 institutions in helping students to break barriers associated with low household earnings.

2016 College Guide and Rankings