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U.S. News ranks Westminster #1 in Pennsylvania, #9 in nation in social mobility

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Posted on Monday, September 12, 2022

Westminster College is one of the leading liberal arts colleges in the country for enabling students to get ahead in the world, according to U.S. News & World Report’s 2023 Best Colleges ranking released Sept. 12. Westminster earned the No. 9 spot in the nation in the Top Performers on Social Mobility list, while also ranking No. 1 in the state of Pennsylvania.

According to the U.S. News & World Report website, economically disadvantaged students are less likely than others to finish college, even when controlling for other characteristics.

“Westminster’s doors are open to students from a wide range of backgrounds, and we are committed to supporting them through to graduation,” said Westminster College President Dr. Kathy Brittain Richardson. “We are proud to be recognized at the national level for the diligence and dedication of our students, faculty and staff.”

The Top Performers list assesses how well colleges and universities graduate economically disadvantaged students. The social mobility ranking is computed by aggregating two ranking factors that measure graduation rates of Pell-awarded students: Pell Grant graduation rates and Pell Grant graduation rate performance.

Last year the average graduation rate for Pell Grant recipients was 55%, while Westminster’s rate was 69%, 14 points above the national average.

Recipients of Pell Grants, a form of need-based federal financial aid, come from households whose family incomes are less than $50,000 annually, though most Pell Grant money goes to students with a total family income below $20,000.

This is the fourth consecutive year Westminster has been recognized by U.S. News as one of the best liberal arts colleges in the country for economically disadvantaged students. Westminster has jumped 10 slots since its first showing in 2019 (No. 19). In 2020, Westminster was ranked 14, and last year Westminster took the No. 10 overall spot on U.S. News’ list.  

For the 2023 edition, Westminster moved up another notch nationally and earned the highest marks in Social Mobility among 21 Pennsylvania liberal arts colleges that were recognized on the list.

In addition to Pell Grants and other need-based and merit scholarships, special programming such as the College’s TRIO Student Support Services (SSS) is also available to make a Westminster education affordable and accessible. Through a $1.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Student Support Services, the College provides services and resources to first-generation, income-eligible students and students with disabilities to ensure they successfully navigate their college education.

Services and resources provided through the TRIO SSS program include academic tutoring, academic success and wellness coaching to promote classroom achievement and personal wellbeing, support for learning and other disabilities, and career and college mentoring.

In addition to its No. 9 spot on the Top Performers on Social Mobility ranking, Westminster earned a top 125 rating among all schools in the National Liberal Arts Colleges category.

U.S. News ranks schools in four categories – National Liberal Arts Colleges, National Universities, Regional Colleges and Regional Universities. Westminster falls in the National Liberal Arts classification.

To see all of U.S. News’ Best College Rankings and Lists, click here.