Queens College and six other CUNY schools made the top 20 for colleges that help move students from poverty to prosperity, according to a recent study from the Equality of Opportunity Project.
The study was conducted by using millions of parental financial aid and tax filing records to track students from nearly every college in the country who were born between 1980 and 1991. The study then compared the students’ incomes after leaving college to how much their parents earned when the children started college.
The median family income of a student from Queens College is $73,100, and 33 percent of students come from the top 20 percent. About 7.1 percent of students at Queens College came from a poor family but became a rich adult. The study found that the median income of Queens College students at age 34 was $48,200.
Queens College President Félix V. Matos Rodríguez is glad that there is now data to support the value of attending affordable colleges.
“It’s scientific validation of something we have known and have been sharing with anyone willing to listen,” he said. “Students who come from the most modest backgrounds are usually not afforded opportunities in higher education. CUNY provides the access. We’re proud that when our students enter the real world, they go out there and do extremely well. We do transformational work and we are among the best at getting it done, but we never had the real facts. Now there’s a study that looked at the data and its great validation of the work we do here.”
Rodríguez hopes that this new study shows the importance of CUNY
“This is the American story and now there’s complete evidence,” he said. “So you have students, if we didn’t exist, that would probably remain poor. That’s sad not just on a personal level, but a societal level. CUNY helps transform them into people who become richer, healthier and more civically minded. This should be music to taxpayers’ and elected officials’ ears.”
Rodríguez said his life has been directly affected by the benefits of public schools.
“It’s the story of my parents in Puerto Rico going to a public university and then to a middle-class life and getting more opportunities. I have always been very aware of many opportunities I’ve been afforded because they got their break.”
Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmart