Census: Poverty rises in college towns

Story by Robb Jeffries

University students can raise poverty rates significantly in areas where they live, especially in college towns such as Grand Forks and Fargo, according to recent U.S. Census Bureau report.

In Grand Forks, home to UND, the percentage of people living below the poverty line decreases by 8 percentage points when students living off campus are excluded, which lowers the poverty rate to 10.4 percent.

In Fargo, home to North Dakota State University, the poverty rate decreases by 5.7 percentage points for a total of 10.5 percent.

David Flynn, chairman of UND’s Economics Department, said not all students reporting poverty-level income truly fit in that demographic. “If they are receiving support from mom and dad, like $100 or $200 a month, or if they are paying certain bills for them, you’re not necessarily getting a look at their whole income.”

Among the states, North Dakota’s poverty rate was the most affected by college students, decreasing by 1.8 percentage points when students are excluded. Nationwide, the average decrease was 0.7 percentage points.

Minnesota’s rate decreases by 1 percentage point and South Dakota’s by 1.1 percentage points.

The Census report, which took data from the 2009-2011 American Community Survey, excluded students who live off campus, but not those living with relatives because the poverty status of the latter still tied to their families’. The poverty rate has long excluded students living in campus housing.

How does this affect local organizations? Click here to read more.

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