U.S. News has once again taken a look at economic diversity at colleges. Economic diversity is important to prospective students who want to know what the composition of the student body actually is on campus. Economic diversity also continues to get a great deal of consideration as a social issue in higher ed. Why? One reason is that many of the top-ranked schools (see links below) historically haven't enrolled large numbers of students from low-income families. It's been argued by many that colleges and universities should make a better effort to educate these students, given education's role in social mobility.
To determine economic diversity, U.S. News looks at the percentage of enrolled undergraduate students receiving Pell grants at each school. Many experts believe that the percentage of students receiving Pell grants is the best available gauge of the proportion of low-income undergrads 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 that has fewer than 10 percent of its students receiving Pell grants signifies that only a small percentage 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 be an indication that its mission is to serve students or geographic areas with families with lower incomes.
These links below will take you directly to the tables that show the percentage of fall 2007 undergraduates receiving federal Pell grants in the 2007-2008 academic year 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 in these categories:
Economic diversity at just the top-ranked schools in these categories:
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