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Which Colleges Pay Off for Low-Income Students?

Which Colleges Pay Off for Low-Income Students?


Nadia Tamez-Robledo
August 16, 2023
As juniors and seniors return to high school this fall, part of their school day likely will include thinking about which colleges and universities they’ll apply to.
But recent data suggests that’s the case for fewer students, as college enrollment remains sluggish and some members of Gen Z remain skeptical that a four-year degree is the best option post-high school.
And while higher education generally leads to higher-paying jobs for graduates, research shows it doesn’t equally impact first-generation or low-income college students.
With all this in mind, EdSurge dove into the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard data to find colleges and universities where low-income students (defined here as those who come from families with household incomes of $30,000 or less) and first-generation students end up making the highest salaries after earning their degrees. (It’s important to note that the data only tracks students who received federal grants or took out federal student loans.)
EdSurge also talked to Zoe B. Corwin, a research professor at the University of Southern California’s Pullias Center for Higher Education, about what colleges can do to prepare to serve these populations.
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