New Data Challenges Misperceptions Around Low-Income Students

Low-income students have equal probability of thriving in traditional higher education institutions

Washington, D.C. – Higher education institutions are relying on predictive analysis to make decisions about admission and resource allocation, a process that could perpetuate the underrepresentation of minority and low-income students. vibeffect, credited with engineering the first scientific model to increase student thriving and on-time graduation for higher education institutions, releases data showing that contrary to popular belief, students from low-income households are likely to thrive in four-year, traditional higher education institutions.

After surveying students in 5,000 households, spanning 1,000 institutions and covering 260 variables, this new data shows that students from low-income households ($35,000 household income and below) have equal probability of earning a high-thriving designation on all dimensions of thriving and often are equally represented in the highest-thriving group.

Of the students surveyed, 16 percent qualified as low-income students, and 15 percent of this population are considered high-thriving according to vibeffect’s College Optimizer Index (COI), which is part of a scientific model that measures a student’s personal, academic and social levels of thriving at four-year institutions. This is compared to the 11 percent of the students who qualified as high-income ($150,000 household income and above) of which 12 percent qualified as high-thriving.

Measuring race proportions in the overall population and the sub-groups of high-thrivers demonstrated that each race has equal opportunities of thriving. Thus confirming that income does not significantly impact a student’s probability of thriving.

“We are releasing this data to challenge the commonly held perception that these individuals have a categorical deficit and cannot thrive in a variety of four-year college ecosystems,“ said Elena M. Cox, CEO of vibeffect. “These low income students, like their peers, want their college to take good care of them during this transitional period in their lives–but more than that these students want their college to help them become a success story.”

Other data included in the survey showcases other key insights that include:

  • Holding a part-time job (10-19 hours per week) increases the probability of thriving for low-income students.
  • 81 percent of low-income, high-thriving students strongly agree that the skills learned at college will be beneficial beyond college and into the real world.
  • 68 percent of low-income high-thrivers had parents who had only some college or less education compared to 7 percent of high-income high-thrivers.

A stand-out trait and significant factor increasing probabilities of thriving for low-income students in their college ecosystem, is whether the student in high school strongly agrees that they know when to ask for help. vibeffect’s evidence provides a clear difference between the white community of low-income students and both low-income African American and Hispanic students. This data suggests that programs preparing low-income students of all races for college reinforce this trait and by doing so the probability of thriving increases across the board.

To view the full data findings, get the fact sheet. To learn more about vibeffect, visit

About vibeffect

vibeffect’s unique ability to identify high-thriving students within university ecosystems allows us to generate predictive, individualized guidance for all students. Verifiable and data-driven, this unprecedented approach to reaching students directly with custom guidance increases applicant, enrollment, start, persistence and on-time graduation rates. For more information, visit

Media Contact:
– Lauren Reid, C. Blohm & Associates,, 608-216-7300 ext. 23