National study shows ECCC graduates rank high in Economic Mobility

A new national study on how colleges shape students’ prospects of upward economic mobility indicates that graduates of East Central Community College in Decatur are getting a high return on their tuition investment over their lifetimes.

The study, “Mobility Report Cards: The Role of Colleges in Intergenerational Mobility,” was conducted by the Equality of Opportunity Project and analyzed the role of colleges in upward income mobility by developing mobility report cards for each two-year and four-year college in the United States The mobility report cards estimate students’ earnings in their early 30s and their parents’ income. The study used publicly available data from the federal government for more than 30 million college students from 1999 to 2013.

The report was also published online in The New York Times using that newspaper’s interactive analysis tool.

With the lowest tuition among the 15 community and junior colleges in Mississippi and among the lowest tuition of all colleges and universities in the United States, the study found that students who graduate from East Central Community College have a high likelihood of achieving economic stability over the course of a lifetime.

The study specifically found that:

East Central Community College ranks No. 40 out of 690 community colleges in the nation in overall mobility of graduates, a measure of the likelihood that an ECCC student, in life, moves up two income quintiles.

Despite being ranked among the lowest two-year colleges in the nation in family income of incoming students, ECCC ranks among the highest in students entering the top 5 percent of income distribution later in life. East Central ranked No. 648 out of 748 community colleges in median parent income of students during the period of the study.

ECCC ranks No. 3 among the state of Mississippi’s 15 community colleges in economic mobility of its graduates over a lifetime.

ECCC ranks No. 6 among all of the state’s community and junior colleges and four-year colleges and universities, including private colleges, in economic mobility of its graduates over a lifetime.

“Any discussion of the benefits of higher education certainly includes Return on Investment (ROI),” noted ECCC President Dr. Billy Stewart. “This study simply validates what we have believed for many years—that the ROI for low-income students who attend and graduate from ECCC is substantial. While being acknowledged as the most economical option for postsecondary education in the state of Mississippi, East Central is now being recognized as one of the leading community colleges in the nation for our economic impact on graduates. We are proud of this national recognition and equally proud of all of our graduates.”

The focus of the Equality of Opportunity Project, which involves a group of researchers from Harvard, the University of California, Berkley, and the U.S. Treasury, is the study of economic mobility, inequality, and poverty in the United States.


The group studies intergenerational mobility and has published several papers on the topic seeking to answer the question, “How can we improve economic opportunities for low-income children?”