social mobility

Rutgers-Newark  ranks 17th in the nation for economic mobility. National policy think tank and research organization Third Way compiled data on 1,400 universities and colleges nationwide, evaluating their effectiveness in providing “a strong return on investment to students with the greatest financial need.’’

“Institutions that are affordable and offer a quick return on investment are committed to access and success for low- to moderate-income students who stand to gain the most in economic and social returns from higher education,’’ according to Third Way.

Rutgers-Newark ranked in the top 20 percent of institutions on Third Way’s economic mobility index, which relies in part on a “price -to-earnings premium” index measuring how long it takes students to recoup their educational costs.

“Institutions that rank highly on the EMI…demonstrate a commitment to helping students not only access college, but also get across the finish line to reap the benefits of a postsecondary credential,’’ according to Third Way.

Third Way also factors in the number of students eligible for federal Pell Grants, which are awarded to students with high financial need. At Rutgers-Newark, 59 percent of students are Pell-eligible.

The organization notes that one-third of the 281 institutions in the top 20% of schools on its economic mobility index are Hispanic-serving institutions–including Rutgers-Newark– a federal designation for schools with an undergraduate enrollment of at least 25% Hispanic students.

Third Way first introduced the economic mobility index (EMI) in 2022 as an alternative to rankings that place disproportionate weight on schools with more exclusive admission standards.

“Do college rankings actually reflect the purpose of our higher education system? Or do they just reproduce existing inequities by rewarding the same wealthy, selective schools that primarily serve students who were already set up for success?” Third Way asks.

Third Way’s 2023 index does not offer numerical ranking, instead shining light on the top 20 percent of schools overall, which it designates as Tier 1, and offering data and context, according to Third Way Policy Advisor Chazz Robinson.  But Third Way notes that institutions can crunch index numbers on their own and calculate their placement on the list.

“One of the purposes of this list is to uplift schools who are doing the lion share of the work in student success and providing economic mobility,’’ said a Third Way spokeswoman. “Rutgers-Newark is within the top 25 and is a Tier 1 school within our rating. You can sort the index column by highest to lowest percentage rating to get the ranked list,’’ she added.

Last year, Rutgers-Newark was ranked first in the nation for “return on investment” among institutions with a high percentage of low-income students, according to a new report by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.