Minority-Serving Institutions Lead on Student Economic Mobility

Inside Higher Ed

A new report, released Wednesday, says minority-serving institutions are continuing to lead the way in providing students an education that provides economic opportunity and social mobility.

The report by Third Way, a center-left think tank, highlights the organization’s second annual Economic Mobility Index (EMI), which measures how well institutions help their students improve their socioeconomic status. It reflects a national shift in higher ed toward emphasizing the affordability of colleges and universities and the return on investment they provide to students.

This was the second year in a row that the report lauded the significant role minority-serving institutions, or MSIs, play in the academic and socioeconomic outcomes of students of color. Institutions across the board that are committed to promoting access for low- to moderate-income students by offering low tuition costs and a quick return on investment performed strongly.....

.....Colin Hill, a technical research analyst for postsecondary education at MDRC, a nonpartisan research organization, sees these “comprehensive approaches to student support” as “instrumental for institutions to foster economic mobility.”

And in systems where such practices have already been implemented, it’s clear that they’re working. They’re “propelling low- and middle-income students into economic mobility,” he said.

The City University of New York system’s program Accelerate, Complete, and Engage (ACE), which provides comprehensive student support and academic services, for example, boosted four-year graduation rates by over 12 percentage points, according to the Third Way report.

They work because they “meet students where they’re at,” Hill explained.

“Students … are coming from all different economic backgrounds, from different social backgrounds, different cultural backgrounds, and they have varying levels of needs,” Hill said. “What comprehensive approaches the student [supports] have to offer is that they’re really adaptable … Having a really dedicated adviser that is able to connect students to the various resources, whether that’s on campus or in the larger community, allows students to complete their degrees, go into the labor market, and see that really fast return on investment.”

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