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Census Report Examines Effect of Off-Campus Students on Poverty Rates

A new working paper, released on Monday by the U.S. Census Bureau, has found that poverty rates in many college towns decline when off-campus students are excluded from poverty estimates.

The bureau’s poverty estimates generally exclude students living in dormitories but typically include college students living off-campus.

The paper examines data collected in the American Community Survey from 2009 to 2011. It identifies 49 places with populations greater than 100,000 where poverty rates fell significantly when off-campus students were not included. Topping that list was Gainesville, Fla., home of the University of Florida, where the poverty rate declined 15.5 percentage points when off-campus students were left out.

The paper identifies four smaller college towns—State College, Pa.; Blacksburg, Va.; Athens, Ohio; and West Lafayette, Ind.—where poverty rates declined by 30 percentage points or more.

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