Faith Monahan ’24
The New York Times recently published the College-Access Index which measures selective universities in terms of access across socio-economic statuses. Trinity College ranked 220 out of 286 selective higher education institutions. The rankings were based on the percentage of freshman receiving Pell shares, and how much the Pell share has changed over the past decade. On average, selective universities have an average freshmen Pell share of 21%. Trinity College has a Pell grant share amongst freshman of 15%. The Pell share grew amongst the freshman class at Trinity by two percentage points since 2011 when the number of freshman receiving Pell grants at Trinity was 19%.
The study was done with Ithaka S+R, a higher-education research group. The data came from reports by colleges to the Education Department’s National Center for Education Statistics. Criteria for the list included institutions that are nonmilitary, approved for federal student aid funds, had a student population over 250, and were considered selective by Barron’s profiles of American Colleges in 2009 or 2016. This includes colleges found to be “most competitive,” “very competitive,” “highly competitive” or “very competitive plus.” The list also included the net price of a mid-income family which includes students coming from a family income between $48,001 and $75,000 per year. This number represents the average cost of tuition following federal, state, or institutional financial aid or scholarship funding. Trinity’s net price for a mid-income student was found to be $14,200 per year which is higher than the majority of other selective colleges on the list.
Trinity has been ranked poorly in previous reports by the New York Times. In the 2017 report, the profile for economic diversity and student outcomes at Trinity College stated that the median income at Trinity college is $257,100, and 75% come from the top 20 percent of the income bracket. The study from Opportunity Insights was based on millions of anonymous tax files and tuition records. It determined its rankings by using the number of students from the top 1% in comparison to the number of students with incomes at the 60th percentile or below. According to the study, 26% of students at Trinity had come from the top 1% while 14% of students came from the bottom 60%. Trinity College had among the highest proportion of students from the top 20% compared to other Connecticut colleges, NESCAC colleges and highly selective private colleges.
The overall patterns of the list show that many colleges with higher endowments have increased the number of students in the freshman class who are Pell grant recipients over the past decade. In the 2020-21 academic year, 32.1% of undergraduate students in the U.S. were awarded Pell grants. Over the past 10 years, this number has hovered around roughly the same level. About 94% of Pell grant recipients have a family income level below $60,000. About half of all recipients have family income levels of $20,000 or less.