The 15 colleges with the most upward mobility


The New York Times ranked the nation's best colleges for low-income students—and the top of the list includes several schools in the University of California (UC) system.

The Times listed 171 schools in its third annual College Access Index, which editors rank based on a combination of factors, including:

  • Five-year graduation rate of at least 75%;
  • Percentage of students receiving Pell grants;
  • Graduation rate of students receiving Pell grants; and
  • Net cost for low- and middle-class students.

The top 15 colleges in the College Access Index are:

  1. University of California–Irvine
  2. University of California–Santa Barbara
  3. University of California–Davis
  4. University of California–San Diego
  5. University of California–Los Angeles
  6. University of Florida
  7. Amherst College
  8. Pomona College
  9. University of California–Berkeley
  10. Harvard University
  11. Vassar College
  12. Williams College
  13. Princeton University
  14. Wellesley College
  15. Stanford University

The list is not very different from the first year's ranking, with University of California system schools and elite private institutions making up most of the top schools, writes David Leonhardt in his commentary on the ranking. However, Leonhardt did note that even schools near the top of the list have seen a decline in economic diversity in recent years, a trend he blames largely on a decline in state funding for higher education (New York Times ranking; Leonhardt, New York Times, 5/26; Leonhardt, New York Times, 5/25).

How to attract low-income, high-ability students

Next in Today's Briefing

5 myths about learning, debunked

Next Briefing

  • Manage Your Events
  • Saved webpages and searches
  • Manage your subscriptions
  • Update personal information
  • Invite a colleague