Growing up in a low-income household in Clifton, New Jersey, Vini Mehta saw one path to a better future: a college degree. Knowing that she would have to pay tuition herself, she chose the New Jersey Institute of Technology, a public university that was affordable and close enough to home that she could live with her parents during part of her time in school. She was equally practical when it came to picking a major: She studied electrical and computer engineering technology, a field that she knew offered a high starting salary.
Mehta’s college experience wasn’t easy. She took six years to earn a degree, working one and sometimes two part-time jobs while taking classes. But the hard work paid off. She graduated in May and quickly landed a job as a programming analyst at UPS, making around $72,000 a year.