Colleges which have made strategic decision to make their education more affordable to needy applicants are rewarded in the particular ranking. Vassar College (NY) has channelled funds which otherwise would have gone to spending on faculty and staff while University of Florida has raised new money earmarked for spending on financial aid for low income students.
In the past ten years, when most colleges have trumpeted their commitment to recruiting students from low income brackets, the reality is that some have actually done this and others have not. In recent years, event low-income students with top grades and scores have found leading colleges out of reach. The New York Times “Upshot” ranking looks at all colleges with a 75% plus graduation rate in four years.
With 23% freshmen receiving Pell Grants, Vassar College (NY) tops the list. Following Vassar, in no particular order, is Grinnell, Pomona, Harvard, and Amherst. Others at the same endowment levels have committed far less to lower income students.
Other noteworthy college having made a significant commitment to low income students are: Franklin & Marshall (PA), Susquehanna (PA), UNC at Chapel Hill (NC), and Wheaton (IL).
While colleges not high on this list might admit and cover full need for a low income student, colleges which rank highly had demonstrated a serious commitment to making their education accessible.