UW Graduates Don't Necessarily Out Earn Parents, Report Says

Jul 6, 2018

Credit Design: Tennessee Watson

Some colleges and universities do a better job than others at helping graduates advance financially so they can earn more than their parents. That’s according to the Equality of Opportunity Project, which studied anonymous tax data from 1999 to 2013, to create Mobility Report Cards. The project ranks colleges based on their impact on intergenerational mobility -- a term for when kids earn more than their parents.

The report card for University of Wyoming (UW) indicates the majority of students come from higher-income families, while around three percent come from low-income families. And the number of students from middle and low-income families has slowly declined. The report shows that only 16 percent of UW graduates made notable economic gains.

UW professor Scott Henkel studies higher education’s role in labor and democracy. He said addressing the issues raised by the report card should be top priority for UW because it’s a land grant institution.

“It’s written in the DNA of a land-grant institution, the need to serve low-income, first-generation, working-class students,” said Henkel. “Do we always reach that ideal? No, course not. But there are people here working very hard in the service of those ideals.”  

David Jewell, the associate vice president for financial affairs, agreed. He said making sure UW is accessible to all students is one piece of the equation.  

“But then once we are accessible, how do we help students to be successful here at the University of Wyoming?” asked Jewell. “How do we make sure that they don’t just take a semester or two semesters but that they actually follow through and complete their degree? And we need to make that has streamlined and as simple as possible.”

Jewell said UW has increased funding for advising and career services in the hopes of improving success for students of all socio-economic backgrounds.