The 74 recently reimagined how a March Madness bracket of NCAA Tournament contenders would look if it reflected not men’s basketball scores, but how well each college increased students’ economic opportunity. The result—The 74’s third-annual Income Mobility Tournament—aims to celebrate schools that have a transformative effect on their students’ lives.
The 74 based its calculations on data from the Equality of Opportunity Project at Harvard University, “which combines millions of anonymous income tax returns with information on thousands of American colleges.” This year, The 74 used a new formula, calculating for each school the proportion of its low-income students (defined as students between ages 19 and 22 who originated in the bottom 40 percent of the income distribution) who had climbed to the top 40 percent of family income distribution by their early 30s.
And the winner is…
The resulting Social Mobility Final Four included Virginia Tech University, University of Michigan, Villanova University, and Iona College. Ultimately, Villanova took the prize, vaulting 80 percent of its low-income students to significantly higher earnings. Michigan came in second at 73 percent mobility, Virginia Tech at 71 percent, and Iona at 68 percent. The 74 applauded all schools from the Final Four for their demonstrated commitment “to both economic diversity and the financial advancement of their students.”