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by Vault Education Editors | September 16, 2009


U.S. News & World Report recently released a new ranking scale to add to their annual repertoire; this one showcasing the nation's most and least economically diverse universities. The scale was created to highlight which universities are making a concerted effort to recruit low-income students, based on the number of current students who receive Pell Grants. While U.S. News admits this is an imperfect system, short of asking for family tax statements it is currently the most reliable method available to evaluate socioeconomic diversity based on numbers.

Here are the Top 10 Most Economically Diverse Universities:

  1. University of La Verne
  2. Jackson State University
  3. South Carolina State University
  4. Florida A&M University
  5. Tennessee State University
  6. University of Texas at El Paso
  7. University of Southern Mississippi
  8. Texas A&M University at Commerce
  9. Polytechnic Institute of New York University
  10. Utah State University

As you can see, there is a stark drop in the highly diverse outliers (University of La Verne in California is No. 1 with 89 percent of its students receiving the grants) and the mean and median percentages. Of the more than 200 schools ranked, only six have more than 50 percent, and from there the numbers taper off pretty quickly. As for the nation's top 25 programs, California takes honors, with three of the four most diverse undergraduate universities within the borders of the Golden State.

But where are the top schools from U.S. News's Best Colleges ranking? Further dissecting the statistics, U.S. News plucked out the top-25 national universities, and ranked them again using the economic diversity scale. Below are those Top 10:

Most Economically Diverse Top 10(To see a more complete list of the economic diversity rankings of top colleges and universities, check out TaxProf Blog, from which this image is taken. The post also includes a table of the top liberal arts colleges' economic diversity rank.)

As for the nation's most prestigious programs, California again takes the cake--the top two hail the University of California system (UCLA with 35 percent and UC Berkeley with 32)--with Columbia a distant third at 17 percent. California must be doing something right.

--Posted by Megan Cassidy


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