National Institute on Aging

Ranking Top Colleges by the Net Price Paid by Low and Middle-Income Students

The New York Times recently published its list of the Top Colleges Doing the Most for the American Dream. To be considered for the list, colleges and universities must have a five-year graduation rate of 75 percent or higher, which excludes virtually every historically Black college or university.

The rankings are based on the percentage of undergraduate students who receive federal Pell Grants, which are reserved for students from low-income families as well as the net price students must pay to attend these institutions. The Times determined the net price for middle-income students for tuition, fees, room and board, after taking into account federal, state and institutional financial aid. These calculations were for students from households earning between $48,000 and $75,000.

The rankings are dominated at the top by the campuses of the University of California. The top five universities on the list and six of the top nine universities are all campuses of the University of California. The University of Florida ranks sixth.

The private colleges and universities among the top colleges that are doing the best to provide the American dream for low-income students are Amherst College in Massachusetts, Pomona College in Claremont, California, Harvard University, and Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York.

At the bottom of the Times rankings are the University of Puget Sound, Emerson College, and Saint Joseph’s University.

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