Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Social Mobility and the Washington Monthly

As reported in the New York Times, Washington Monthly has published its rankings of Universities based on their contribution to social good. It is interesting the compare the social good rankings with the U.S. News and World Report rankings. One measure of social good is the contribution to social mobility and that is measured by students with Pell Grants.

One thing that I do not understand is this. Pell grants are essential subsidization for students who otherwise could not go to college. That's fine but isn't that the role of public schools more generally? At my School, undergraduates are heavily subsidized and earn degrees than enable them to achieve careers that would otherwise be impossible. Last time I checked that would be social mobility. Wouldn't the Washington Monthly rankings make a lot more sense if they considered the subsidization of less affluent students as a matter of course at Schools that strive to keep tuition low? As it turns out, many state schools make it to the top of the list. But a few elite schools are up there too, bumping aside schools where subsidization of the less affluent is not an exception but part of the mission.

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