With Much of the Student Population Coming from Lower 60% Income Brackets, ‘Equality of Opportunity Project’ Analysis Shows Significant Movement
BURBANK, Calif. (Jan. 31, 2017) — In a major new study by high-level academics and reported in-depth by The Upshot/New York Times earlier this month, Woodbury University has emerged as a national and statewide leader in student economic mobility, the university said today.
Addressing economic diversity and student outcomes, the study, originally published on Jan. 18, examined millions of anonymous tax filings and tuition records for “Mobility Report Cards: The Role of Colleges in Intergenerational Mobility,” from The Equality of Opportunity Project. The study defines “mobility rate” as the portion of a college’s students who come from a family in the bottom fifth of the income distribution and end up in the top fifth of the income distribution. The analysis revealed that some colleges are even more economically segregated than previously understood, while others are associated with income mobility.
According to the New York Times, the mobility rate the researchers developed “captures the share of all students at a given college who both came from a lower-income family and ended up in a higher-income family.” Dominating the top of this list are mid-tier public and private institutions, not elite colleges.
In terms of mobility from bottom 20 percent to top 20 percent of income by one’s 30s, Woodbury ranks 36th nationally, out of 2200 colleges and universities, and 7th in California, out of 167 colleges and universities (https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/projects/college-mobility/woodbury-university). Approximately 6.4 percent of students at Woodbury came from a poor family but became highly affluent a decade after graduation.
According to Nathan Garrett, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Information Technology and Assistant Dean, Woodbury School of Business, the 6.4 percent figure is highly significant when compared to the vast majority of schools, where only 120 colleges and universities have a rate of 4 percent or higher (http://www.equality-of-opportunity.org/). The median family income of a student from Woodbury is $63,800, and 33 percent come from the top 20 percent.
“This is a score representing the number of students moving up two or more quintiles — a fifth — in income after graduating,” Garrett said. “Basically, it’s a measure of social mobility. The higher the number, the more likely it is that students who come in end up earning more money than their parents.”
“Given that more than half of Woodbury students come from the lower 60 percent of the family income brackets, these results are simply remarkable,” said David Steele-Figueredo, Woodbury University President. “They affirm our strategic focus on delivering a quality liberal arts education, built around various practice-based disciplines, at a price families can afford. Our interactive learning environment transforms students – many of whom are the first in their families to attend college — into innovative, highly successful professionals.”
Under the direction of economists Raj Chetty, John Friedman, Emmanuel Saez, Nicholas Turner and Danny Yagan, The Equality of Opportunity Project analyzed the data of more than 30 million students between 1999 and 2013, as well as the access rate (which percentage of students belonging to the lowest 20 percent of salaried employees was able to enroll) from universities across the country. Analyzing to which economic quintile of the population belonged the students between the age of 15 and 19 years and to which belong to the age of 32 after going to university, it is possible to analyze how many of them have better obtained their socioeconomic position thanks to the studies.
The statistics cover only schools that participate in Title IV federal funding, which excludes the military academies and certain other colleges. Measures of access are for students born in 1991, roughly the class of 2013; measures of outcomes and mobility are for students born between 1980 and 1982, who are around age 35, when relative income ranks stabilizes. Class size figures represent the number of students in the study who were born in 1991: approximately the class of 2013 or today’s 25-year-olds. This measure does not include