Saturday, July 20, 2024

LSUS ranked among nation’s best in economic mobility for low-income graduates 

by BIZ Magazine

One of the key drivers of college degree seekers is to improve their income and economic status. 

LSUS ranked the highest in the state and among the nation’s best in the second annual Economic Mobility Index, which measures how effectively institutions help low-income students improve their socioeconomic level. 

LSUS earned Tier 1 status, meaning it ranked in the top 20 percent of the more than 1,300 colleges evaluated. 

“Succeeding in this metric is especially significant for us given the number of first-generation and low-income students we serve,” said LSUS Chancellor Dr. Robert Smith. “We’re successful in helping our students transform their lives economically speaking.” 

The report was released by the organization Third Way, a national think tank that believes higher education is critical to securing a middle-class lifestyle. 

The study used data from the most recent College Scorecard, which reflects institution-level data from the 2020-21 academic year, and the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. 

The report measured the percentage of a school’s student body that is low-income and how long it takes low-income students to pay off the cost of their degree. 

This data is used to construct a school’s Economic Mobility Index (EMI). 

LSUS’s EMI score is 26.8 percent. 

Nearly 37 percent of the LSUS student population receives federal Pell grants. 

Based on the amount that low-income students pay out of pocket for their education (after scholarships and grants), the report calculated that low-income students pay off their LSUS degrees in 2.77 years. 

Colleges that scored well tended to have affordable tuition, higher levels of low-income students and effective services in place for low-income students to succeed. Colleges who effectively serve larger populations of low-income students were ranked highly. 

The LSUS College of Business is the largest college on campus, and dean Dr. Mary Lois White said concentrating on workforce readiness improves a student’s job opportunities upon graduation. 

“We strive to maintain the affordability of our programs while providing access to a high quality education that incorporates valuable skills and certifications in our programs to ensure our students are workforce ready,” White said. “That facilitates economic mobility of graduates. 

“This increased economic security has both short-term and long-term benefits for these students and their families.” 

LSUS has created entities such as the Student Success Center and other services that have impacted retention and graduation rates. 

Wrap-around services include peer mentors, supplemental instruction and tutoring, counseling and career services, various co-curricular activities and an emphasis on student-centric scheduling and teaching. 

“LSUS began intentionally focusing on our first-year experience, and in particular after COVID-19, asking ourselves what barriers students face in getting an education,” said Dr. Helen Wise, Assistant Academic Provost. “As part of the Meauxmentum Year approach, LSUS focuses on providing clear pathways, embedding more opportunities for micro-credential and shorter-term skilling opportunities, building schedules that lead to success and persistence, and intervening early and often when any difficulties arise for students.” 

The Meauxmentum Year approach refers to a Louisiana Board of Regents initiative focusing on areas like quick paths to a major, an education plan designed with a clear path to graduation and with careers in mind, and how a campus accounts for non-academic barriers like resource gaps and its impact, 

A significant portion of students who don’t finish a college degree won’t finish their freshman year. 

“The critical takeaway from this study is that students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds ‘close the economic gap’ with their more affluent counterparts at LSUS more effectively than at many other universities,” Wise said. “This study shows that some schools – LSUS being one – do a better job of helping students persist in gaining employment that materially improves their lives in ways other universities do not.” 

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