New York Times access index shows UConn still has work to do

UConn is ranked No. 87 out of 179 colleges on the New York Times College Access Index. The list was created based on the share of students who receive Pell grants, graduation rate of those students and the price the college’s charge on low and middle class students.

University of California dominates the rankings with six of their campuses sitting in the top seven spots. Many of the top schools are Tier 1 or Ivy League that have large endowments per student. UConn has an average $13,000 per student endowment; however, it should be noted that schools with similar or lesser endowments still rank higher than UConn, with the only exceptions being Marist, The College of New Jersey and James Madison. UConn also has a higher middle income than most other schools that still rank higher.

It seems that the Pell grants available to students play a larger role in the ranking given to the school. Schools with more Pell grants are ranked higher while those with the same or less Pell grants, for the most part, ranked lower. There are several exceptions but these exceptions also show endowments per student that far outweigh UConn’s. 

When making this data, The New York Times tried to give credit to colleges for the number of low-income students who graduated rather than those who enrolled. These statistics are solely based on the college’s release of data. The lack of transparency in such information is also evident. However, this data is the closest one can come to seeing the strides made by certain schools to accommodate to low-income students. 

It’s very apparent that the funds are limited in schools as not all schools have endowments per student in the millions, such as Princeton, Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Pomona and Swarthmore. Another problem is the Pell grants are only offered to those who come from families with incomes less than $70,000. Those who make barely above that amount are ignored. 

The data released by The New York Times holds colleges accountable for their efforts in making higher education more available to students from low-income families. Rankings with all statistics displayed allows for colleges to have more of an incentive to accommodate these students all the while encouraging them to remain in college and graduate. 

As for UConn’s performance in this ranking, we believe that although there is progress to be made, given the funds currently available, as a public state school, we are not doing poorly. Of course, the University of California has set an example for all of us as they have managed to get all their campuses into top 10.