Poverty In The US Looks A Lot Brighter If You Don't Count College Students

If only states could cancel out unemployed college co-eds when they calculate income rates, it would paint a much different picture of poverty in the U.S. 

There are some 23.2 million college students enrolled in the U.S., the majority of whom either still live at home with their parents (66%)  or in on-campus dormitories (11%), according to the U.S. Census. But the 25% of students who live in off-campus housing are factored into poverty calculations at city, county, and state levels and could be skewing the numbers.

An study by the Census found that in areas with heavy student populations, the difference in poverty rates with and without college students is quite significant. For example,  Monongalia County, West Virginia, home of the University of West Virginia, saw its poverty rate decrease by about half, from 23.0% to 12.6% after college kids were excluded. 

Likewise, the poverty rate fell from 21% to 11.5% for Tompkins County, N.Y., home of Cornell University. 

The study is meant as a tool for city planners to think about recalculating the way they deal with poverty measures. 

The maps below show a nice before and after snapshot of what poverty rates would look like if we excluded college co-eds. 


Screen shot 2013 07 31 at 10.48.50 AM


college poverty us census map

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