Sep 8, 2023 - Education

Boston colleges lack economic diversity, according to Times report

Hampshire College in South Amherst. Photo: John Greim/Getty Images

The Massachusetts colleges with the most economic diversity are nowhere near Boston.

  • That's according to the latest College-Access Index published by the New York Times. The index measures the share of freshmen receiving federal Pell Grants, which are awarded to low-income students.

Why it matters: The end of affirmative action plus new scrutiny on legacy admissions have put a spotlight on colleges' efforts to consider wealth in acceptance decisions, the Times' David Leonhardt and Ashley Wu write.

Driving the news: The Massachusetts school with the most economic diversity in its freshmen class is Hampshire College in Amherst, which ranks 16th in the country with 39% of freshmen coming in with Pell Grants.

  • Hampshire's share has risen the most of Massachusetts colleges since 2011 — by 17%.
  • Nearby in the Pioneer Valley, Mount Holyoke College ranks 48th with 29% — an 8% increase.

Zoom in: Even though Boston is known as a higher education hub, the metro area schools with the highest Times' ranking are Harvard and Wellesley at 100th, with 22% of freshmen receiving Pell grants.

  • Worth noting: Harvard is the highest ranking Ivy League school on the list.

Here's how other local schools rank:

  • MIT: #117 (21%)
  • Boston University: #133 (20%)
  • Northeastern: #248 (13%)
  • Boston College: #257 (12%)
  • Tufts University: #265 (11%)

What we're watching: While some schools have seen increases in their Pell share since 2011, more than half of Massachusetts colleges the Times ranked have seen their percentages decrease or stay flat during that period.


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