Economic Diversity: Why We Measure It

Higher educations's commitment to low-income students has become an important issue.

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U.S. News has once again analyzed economic diversity at colleges. Economic diversity provides one insight into what the composition of the student body is actually like to students who are interested in applying. Economic diversity also continues to receive growing attention as a social issue in higher ed, particularly at some of the top schools that haven't traditionally enrolled large numbers of students from low-income families. It has been argued by many that colleges and universities should make a better effort to educate these students, given education's role in social mobility.

How is economic diversity determined? U.S. News looks at the percentage of enrolled undergraduate students receiving Pell grants at each school. Many experts say that the percentage of students receiving Pell grants is the best available gauge of how many low-income undergrads there are on a given campus. Pell grants are awarded from a federally funded program that gives need-based grants to low-income students and are most often given to undergrads with family incomes under $20,000.

So what do the following economic diversity tables really mean? A school with under 10 percent of students receiving Pell grants means that not a very large proportion of its students come from low-income backgrounds. That school might not have the best support services in place for such students. If a school has a large proportion of students receiving Pell grants, 40 percent or more, that could signify that its very mission is to serve students from these backgrounds.

These links will take you directly to the tables that show the percentage of undergraduates receiving federal Pell grants for low-income students for all the colleges and universities in these U.S. News categories and among just the top-ranked schools in those categories.

Economic Diversity at all schools

  • National Universities
  • Liberal Arts Colleges
  • Master’s Universities -North
  • Master’s Universities -South
  • Master’s Universities -Midwest
  • Master’s Universities -West
  • Baccalaureate Colleges -North
  • Baccalaureate Colleges-South
  • Baccalaureate Colleges-Midwest
  • Baccalaureate Colleges-West
  • Economic Diversity at just the top ranked schools

    • National Universities
    • Liberal Arts Colleges
    • Master’s Universities-North
    • Master’s Universities-South
    • Master’s Universities-Midwest
    • Master’s Universities-West
    • Baccalaureate Colleges-North
    • Baccalaureate Colleges-South
    • Baccalaureate Colleges-Midwest
    • Baccalaureate Colleges-West