Institutional News

New York Times Ranks Bennington College Among Nation’s Most Economically Diverse

Bennington College’s student body is among the more economically diverse, compared with other elite colleges and universities across the country, according to the New York Times College-Access Index released Thursday. In order of their students’ economic diversity, Bennington ranked #43 on a list of nearly 300 of the country’s most selective universities.

Students dining outside

“More than many other ratings, this one shows Bennington’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion in a clearly discernible way,” said Laura Walker, President of Bennington College. “It’s unmistakable; Bennington College is within reach for bright and talented students, regardless of financial need.” 

The College-Access Index measures the percentage of first-year students entering college in 2020-2021 who received Pell grants, federal subsidies for students with limited means to pay for college. It also factored in a school’s endowment share per student and the cost of the college for low- and middle-income families after financial aid is applied.

The New York Times noted that the report is more important now than when it was last released in 2017. 

The report included that the Supreme Court’s decision to do away with race-based affirmative action and the decision by some schools to abandon or reduce legacy admissions was a major reason for compiling this data now. These recent events have put a renewed focus on institutional efforts to consider wealth in making admissions decisions. 

New York Times Senior Writer David Leonhardt wrote, “Our goal is to help readers understand which colleges were already enrolling economically diverse classes before the Supreme Court decision—and therefore can serve as a model for others.”

Bennington outranked every Ivy League university and is the most economically diverse selective college in Vermont. Among liberal arts colleges nationwide, Bennington ranked #19. 

“Socioeconomic diversity is important to both low-income families and those with the means to afford higher education,” said Tony Cabasco, Vice President for Enrollment. “Our students and their families want to know that Bennington is a place that’s invested in creating opportunities not just for them but for highly creative, innovative, and capable students from a broad range of socioeconomic backgrounds.” 

About Bennington College

Bennington College is a liberal arts college in southwestern Vermont that has distinguished itself as a vanguard institution within American higher education. It was the first to include the visual and performing arts in a liberal arts education. It is the only college to require that its students spend a term—every year—at work in the world. Bennington students work intensively with faculty to forge individual educational paths around their driving questions and interests.

Rooted in an abiding faith in the talent, imagination, and responsibility of the individual, Bennington invites students to pursue and shape their own intellectual inquiries and, in doing so, to discover the profound interconnection of things. Learn more at