These Are The Best Colleges For Economic Mobility By State

David Luther
by David Luther
Rankings - 1 year ago
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best colleges for economics mobility in each state

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A college education has long been ingrained in our psyches not just as key, but the key to economic mobility. And for many parents, one of the first things they do to get adulting is open up a college fund, hoping this will give their kids the whole American Dream thing — and we’ve got a list of the best schools for catapulting students into the wealthiest brackets.

We at Zippia have put together a list of the top schools by state in terms of which ones have the largest percentage of students who enter in a low income bracket and wind up in the top — and our study is different from others, because we don’t just want the top, we want the top one percent as well.

Here’s the best of the best… and it’s also really exciting to me that Drake University made it to this ranking of schools that has the most students that started from the bottom, and now they here.

  1. Vaughn College Of Aeronautics And Technology — New York
  2. California State University, Los Angeles — California
  3. Texas A&M International University — Texas
  4. New Jersey Institute Of Technology — New Jersey
  5. Xavier University of Louisiana — Louisiana
  6. Florida International University — Florida
  7. Tuskegee University — Alabama
  8. Dickinson State University — North Dakota
  9. Savannah State University — Georgia
  10. Park University — Missouri

In a time where each generation starting the the 1940s has almost universally made less than the previous one, one of the critical things to today’s college freshmen is that the college they choose will launch them into a higher economic bracket.

And as this study shows, 60 percent of incoming freshmen indicated it as “very important” that a college’s alumni are “very well off financially”.

And Vaughn College does just that.

How We Determined the Best Schools for Economic Mobility

Because we primarily care about the economic mobility of the students in each school, our main focus for the rankings came in the form data from the Equality of Opportunity project, which we used to plot:

  • Mobility Rate — Percent of students who have parents in the bottom 20 percent of the income distribution and reach the top 20 percent of the income distribution.
  • Upper-Tail Mobility Rate — Percent of students who have parents in the bottom 20 percent of the income distribution and reach the top 1 percent of the income distribution.

We also used the College Scorecard database to find out what they were earning six and ten year after they graduated — but this didn’t get as much weight in the rankings, since it’s all about mobility.

We eliminated community colleges and schools from our rankings that had fewer than 200 students per entering cohort, since this is about mobility. It felt like showcasing super-selective schools or schools that served a very small part of the population wouldn’t represent that ideal very well.

A word on NY

And as a reminder, each college on our list has to take the top place in its state to make the rankings. For example, New York actually has the top four schools in the country for economic mobility:

  1. Vaughn College Of Aeronautics And Technology
  2. CUNY Bernard M. Baruch College
  3. City College Of New York – CUNY
  4. CUNY Lehman College

But since they’re second, third, and fourth place in the state of New York as well as the country, they don’t make the map. Still, shout out to CUNY, for the people.

Now, onto the list.

1. New York

best colleges for economics mobility in each state
College: Vaughn College Of Aeronautics And Technology
Became a One-Percenter: 0.6 percent
Started from the bottom now they’re here: 16.4 percent
Median individual earnings around 30: $53,000
Coming in at the top of the national list — as well as the competitive enough top of New York list — is this fight-focused college with a student body with a 90 percent financial aid rate that is more than 68 percent minority. First class flight to the tippy top.

2. California

best colleges for economics mobility in each state
College: California State University, Los Angeles
Became a One-Percenter: 0 percent
Started from the bottom now they’re here: 9.9 percent
Median individual earnings around 30: $43,000
Also known as the headquarters of Hooli from Silicon Valley, this other majority minority student body also serves a generally underserved population, with fully a third of its student body’s parents coming from the bottom socioeconomic quartile.

3. Texas

best colleges for economics mobility in each state
College: Texas A&M International University
Became a One-Percenter: 0 percent
Started from the bottom now they’re here: 8.1 percent
Median individual earnings around 30: $42,800
It’s business program is second-best in the country for providing the “Greatest Opportunity for Minority Students” and it’s overall sixth in the nation for lowest net price among public four-year universities — it’s almost built around bringing it’s students up.

4. New Jersey

best colleges for economics mobility in each state
College: New Jersey Institute of Technology
Became a One-Percenter: 0.1 percent
Started from the bottom now they’re here: 6.5 percent
Median individual earnings around 30: $71,600
This school is a bit of a standout on our list, since it’s got a limited selection of majors that are almost predominately tech=based — but it also has the highest median salary, so there you have it. This high value-added school is clearly successful at producing successful people.

5. Louisiana

best colleges for economics mobility in each state
College: Xavier University of Louisiana
Became a One-Percenter: 0.4 percent
Started from the bottom now they’re here: 5.3 percent
Median individual earnings around 30: $48,400
Xavier students clearly have high aspirations and an uncanny ability to ignore the year-round party that New Orleans offers — and unlike schools on this list, Xavier’s students aren’t coming from homes that are progressively earning more over the years.

6. Florida

best colleges for economics mobility in each state
College: Florida International University
Became a One-Percenter: 0.1 percent
Started from the bottom now they’re here: 5.2 percent
Median individual earnings around 30: $46,800
The fact that this school manages to have such a high economic turnaround for its students is truly remarkable, considering that it’s not only the largest school on our list but the fourth-largest in the United States by enrollment.

7. Alabama

best colleges for economics mobility in each state
College: Tuskegee University
Became a One-Percenter: 0 percent
Started from the bottom now they’re here: 5.2 percent
Median individual earnings around 30: $38,900
This storied home of the Tuskegee Airmen also takes its students to unprecedented heights, with 28 percent of students going on into the top quintile among those with parents in the bottom quintile.

8. North Dakota

best colleges for economics mobility in each state
College: Dickinson State University
Became a One-Percenter: 0 percent
Started from the bottom now they’re here: 4.1 percent
Median individual earnings around 30: $40,700
The university began as a teachers college in 1918, however most students attending DSU are business management majors, and apparently it’s been doing a good job of preparing them for the business world as graduates consistently score in the top 10% of national exit exams.

9. Georgia

best colleges for economics mobility in each state
College: Savannah State University
Became a One-Percenter: 0 percent
Started from the bottom now they’re here: 4 percent
Median individual earnings around 30: $29,400
Another HBCU, part of Savannah State University’s mission statement is “to graduate students who are prepared to perform at higher levels of economic productivity” — if they were to add “than their parents”, they’d have accomplished that mission.

10. Missouri

best colleges for economics mobility in each state
College: Park University
Became a One-Percenter: 0 percent
Started from the bottom now they’re here: 3.9 percent
Median individual earnings around 30: $43,600
This Missouri school has exploded in size since offering online programs and was granted university status recently — but the famously military-friendly college was also ranked the seventh-most affordable private university/college in the nation.

A Quick Rundown on Pay Rates and Job Placement Ratings

No college can guarantee you a job — much less being “very well off financially” — but many still stake reputations on their alumni career success and employment rates.

Because of the importance of these numbers to prospective students, it can often be tough to tell who to trust with these numbers. While some institutions go to great length to ensure their numbers are as accurate as possible, not all are as diligent — or (let’s just say it) as honest.

As this Hechinger Report article by Jon Marcus details, many universities are either misleading or outright lying about their placement rates, and there’s not always a ton of oversight when it comes to ensuring the rates they report to prospective students reflect the reality.

Independently-obtained pay information and career info from resumes serves as a system of checks and balances for the universities themselves. And of course, we’re always here to steer you in the right direction — watch doggy-style — as well as the IES, or the Institute of Education Sciences, a bipartisan government organization dedicated to finding scientific data related to education.

They try to keep this information as impartial as possible so that it can be used across the aisle as a solid base on which to build effective educational policies, and they keep this information in the IPEDS database mentioned at the beginning of the article.

College Location Bottom 20% To Top 20% Bottom 20% To Top 1%
Vaughn College Of Aeronautics And Technology New York, NY 16% 0.60%
California State University, Los Angeles Los Angeles, CA 9% 0.00%
Texas A&M International University Laredo, TX 8% 0.00%
New Jersey Institute Of Technology Newark, NJ 6% 0.10%
Xavier University Of Louisiana New Orleans, LA 5% 0.40%
Tuskegee University Auburn, AL 5% 0.00%
Florida International University Miami, FL 5% 0.10%
Dickinson State University Dickinson, ND 4% 0.00%
Savannah State University Savannah, GA 4% 0.00%
Park University Kansas City, MO 3% 0.00%
Elizabeth City State University Virginia Beach, NC 3% 0.00%
Mississippi Valley State University Greenwood, MS 3% 0.00%
University Of Maryland University College Washington, DC 3% 0.00%
Chicago State University Chicago, IL 3% 0.00%
Montana State University — Northern Havre, MT 3% 0.00%
Claflin University Columbia, SC 3% 0.00%
Norfolk State University Virginia Beach, VA 3% 0.00%
Chaminade University Of Honolulu Honolulu, HI 3% 0.00%
Massachusetts Institute Of Technology Boston, MA 3% 0.70%
Lincoln University, PA Philadelphia, PA 3% 0.00%
Southeastern Oklahoma State University Sherman, OK 3% 0.00%
New Mexico State University El Paso, NM 3% 0.10%
Kettering University Detroit, MI 3% 0.00%
University Of Phoenix Phoenix, AZ 3% 0.00%
Lincoln College Of Technology Bridgeport, CT 3% 0.00%
Tennessee State University Nashville, TN 2% 0.10%
Southern Arkansas University Magnolia, AR 2% 0.10%
Eastern Wyoming College Torrington, WY 2% 0.00%
Norwich University Claremont, VT 2% 0.00%
Colorado State University-Pueblo Pueblo, CO 2% 0.00%
University Of Washington — Seattle Seattle, WA 2% 0.10%
Wesley College Dover, DE 2% 0.10%
University Of The Cumberlands London, KY 2% 0.00%
Rose Hulman Institute Of Technology Terre Haute, IN 2% 0.20%
College Of Saint Scholastica Duluth, MN 2% 0.00%
Great Basin College Elko, NV 2% 0.00%
Lewis-Clark State College Lewiston, ID 2% 0.00%
Central State University Dayton, OH 2% 0.00%
Bethany College of Bethany, WV Steubenville, WV 2% 0.00%
Husson University Bangor, ME 2% 0.00%
Eastern Oregon University La Grande, OR 2% 0.00%
Chadron State College Chadron, NE 1% 0.10%
Milwaukee School Of Engineering Milwaukee, WI 1% 0.10%
Drake University Des Moines, IA 1% 0.10%
Salve Regina University Providence, RI 1% 0.00%
South Dakota School Of Mines And Technology Brookings, SD 1% 0.10%
University Of Alaska System Anchorage, AK 1% 0.00%
Pittsburg State University Joplin, KS 1% 0.00%
Dixie State University St. George, UT 1% 0.00%
Dartmouth College Claremont, NH 1% 0.40%