Think Tank Third Way Ranks CSUSB in Top 10 for Economic Mobility Index

By: Sharjeel Sohaib


Oct 1, 2022



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Six California State University campuses made the top 10 in an Economic Mobility Index (EMI) assessment by the national Think Tank Third Way, with Cal State San Bernardino coming in at No. 8.

Key Takeaway:

  • California State University San Bernardino has achieved high placement on a new social mobility index. It means that a student from a less privileged background had an equal chance at success as someone from a more privileged background at CSUSB. 
  • The Think Tank developed the social mobility index. It’s a national center for economic opportunity, drawing on economic and demographic data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the IRS, and other sources.

We Covered this in our Weekly Wire Roundup

Hispanic-Serving Institutions top the list of the Economic Mobility Index.

According to Third Way’s EMI, the schools touted as the finest in the country on conventional rankings offer little economic mobility. Instead, a collection of Hispanic-Serving Institutions, including CSUSB, led the list in the study.

Since 1994, CSUSB has been a Hispanic-Serving Institution. The percentage of Hispanic undergraduate full-time students at CSUSB as of fall 2021 is 66%, much higher than the HSI need of at least 25%.

CSUSB: A Proud Hispanic-Serving Institution

The EMI developed by Third Way combines two variables: 

  1. The time it takes low-income students at a particular college to recoup the expenses of their tuition, and; 
  2. The percentage of low and moderate-income students who attended each institution.

Third Way researchers have made various improvements to the report since it was first published in January 2022. It enables consumers to assess and contrast the financial advantages of enrolling in one school instead of another.

First, Third Way unveiled a map that users could use to understand institutions and the opportunities for economic mobility they offer. Second, it created a system of tiers for economic mobility, classifying institutions according to the five different levels of economic mobility they offer.ย 

CSUSB is in Tier 1, reserved for universities with the top 20% economic mobility rankings. The government financial aid each school receives was also factored into Third Way.

Economic Mobility: Why yet another index?

Historical status precedes student achievements in the most popular rankings, and it causes the same selective and resource-rich institutions to move yearly to the top college lists. 

These rankings continue to honor schools based on how many kids they excludeโ€”not how many they serve. Instead, the scales must address why these institutions don’t admit their fair share of low-income or students of color.

Colleges Ranking according to Economic mobility.

The Economic Mobility Index gives equal weight to the amount of low- and moderate-income students a school enrolls and how institutions serve their low-income students. On the other side, typical college rankings emphasize selectivity and test results.

College-led economic mobility: A path to achieve social mobility 

College-led economic mobility is a means to earn social mobility because it allows students to get a better education and become better people. In the past, many people believed that if you went to college, you would be stuck in your current job for life.ย 

But we realize college graduates find employment with higher salaries than their non-college-educated peers.

College-led economic mobility is also essential in today’s society because it allows students to save money for future expenses. With higher education and good jobs, young adults can afford more things, such as new homes or cars.ย 

Does College-Led Mobility Play a Role in Enhancing Social Mobility?

Americans think that a college education is a key to a better future. And in some instances, it is. Yet, if post-secondary education is to be our system for promoting social mobility, it needs work.

Climbing the economic ladder is far more likely for college grads. Children born in the lowest income quintile who do not complete a four-year degree are four times more likely to end up in the bottom (47%) than those who do (10%), according to research from Pew. 

The benefits of education are only realized by those who earn a degree, and few low-income individuals do.

The post-secondary education system supports social mobility, but only for the few low-income Americans who complete a certificate.

Wrap Up!

According to a ranking by the national think tank Third Way’s Economic Mobility Index (EMI), six campuses of California State University made the top 10. The eighth-ranked was Cal State San Bernardino. Since 1994, CSUSB has been a Hispanic-Serving Institution. 

At CSUSB, there are 66% more Hispanic full-time undergraduate students than at HSI’s least 25%. Post-secondary education requires urgent improvement if it is to be for fostering social mobility.


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