SUNY Old Westbury ranks among top 2% of U.S. universities in latest economic mobility index

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SUNY Old Westbury ranks among top 2% of U.S. universities in latest economic mobility index
Photo Courtesy of SUNY Old Westbury Office of Communications and University Relations

A recent national ranking of colleges and universities that increase economic mobility for low- and moderate-income students has found that SUNY Old Westbury outpaces many traditional academic powerhouses nationwide.

SUNY Old Westbury was placed in Tier 1 of the 2023 Third Way Social Mobility Index and ranked 28TH overall out of 1,409 campuses across the country – earning the highest ranking among Long Island institutions and the highest within the State University of New York system.

“This ranking goes beyond having affordable tuition,” said SUNY Old Westbury President Timothy E. Sams. “Transforming the lives of people, especially those from low- and middle-income communities, is at the heart of our institution, from our close instructional settings to our student-focused programs and support services.”

The Third Way Economic Mobility Index rankings debuted in 2022, when SUNY Old Westbury was ranked 35th. Created by the Third Way think tank, the rankings calculate the percentage of low- and moderate-income students a university serves and the time it takes those students to earn enough to pay off the cost of their degree based on the extra earnings they achieved by attending that university.

Along with the 2023 Third Way distinction, SUNY Old Westbury was included in the U.S. News & World Report’s “2022 America’s Best Colleges” with a 13TH place ranking for social mobility among more than 180 colleges and universities in the Northeast.

The Economic Mobility Index

SUNY Old Westbury’s Economic Mobility Index was calculated to be 45.2 percent.  To come to that figure, Third Way first determined a Price-to- Earnings Premium each institution. The PEP measures how long it takes on average for low-income students attending a given college to recoup the costs of paying for their education.

The EMI then defines the value a college provides based on the proportion of lower-income students it enrolls, in addition to the economic benefit they receive. Of SUNY Old Westbury’s undergraduate student body during the survey period, 47.4 percent received Pell grants.

According to the methodology offered by Third Way, “this calculation helps to contextualize which schools not only serve low-income students well, but also serve a large share of them in the first place, and thus are powerful drivers of upward mobility.”

SUNY Old Westbury’s Continued Commitment

Since its founding, Old Westbury has focused its mission to provide access and opportunity to students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Recognized as both a Hispanic-Serving institution and an Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-serving institution by the U.S. Department of Education, the University is widely recognized among the most diverse institutions in the nation with more than 60 percent of its student body made up of people of color.

“In a time of rising inequality and division, students must be prepared to be the leaders our society needs,” said Sams. “We are proud to be recognized as a place whose focus on critical thinking, leadership and social justice is accessible and provides the value our graduates need to make change in the world.”

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