Buffalo State College ranked 34th out of 1,550 benchmarked colleges and universities in CollegeNET’s Social Mobility Index (SMI) for 2021.
The SMI, now in its eighth year, measures the extent to which four-year colleges and universities educate economically disadvantaged students (those with family incomes below the national median) at low tuition and graduate them into well-paying jobs. Buffalo State ranks highest among schools within the State University of New York (SUNY) system and continues to be the highest-ranked four-year institution in Western New York.
“We’ve heard time and time again how a college education can catapult an individual from poverty into the middle class and beyond, and at Buffalo State, we make it our mission to help students from all socioeconomic backgrounds achieve that goal.”
In its first five years of inclusion in the index, Buffalo State rose 100 positions, ranking 132nd in 2016, 102nd in 2017, 82nd in 2018, and 32nd in 2019. Last year, it ranked 35th in the index.
“We’ve heard time and time again how a college education can catapult an individual from poverty into the middle class and beyond,” said Buffalo State President Katherine Conway-Turner. “And at Buffalo State, we make it our mission to help students from all socioeconomic backgrounds achieve that goal. Before and during the coronavirus pandemic, our faculty and staff have worked steadfastly with students to ensure that they stay on track, succeed academically, and graduate into fulfilling careers or go on to pursue graduate education.”
Founded on the principle that growing economic disparity in this country is the most pressing problem of our time, the SMI seeks to redirect the attribution of “prestige” in the higher education system toward colleges that are advancing economic opportunity and social mobility.
“Unlike other college rankings that celebrate wealth and its proxies, the SMI helps families and policymakers determine which colleges are addressing the national problem of economic mobility,” said CollegeNET President Jim Wolfston. “Administrators have a better chance to help strengthen U.S. economic mobility and the promise of the American Dream if they can identify and learn from colleges that are skilled at doing this.
“In today’s world, where the American Dream is increasingly threatened, real prestige must accord to universities that educate and advance all motivated students, regardless of their economic background.”
“Given that the U.S. is now the least economically mobile among developed nations, it is irresponsible to say an education institution is ‘better’ because it has a huge endowment, or because it admits students with higher SAT/ACT scores—which are most tightly correlated to family income,” Wolfston added.
“In today’s world, where the American Dream is increasingly threatened, real prestige must accord to universities that educate and advance all motivated students, regardless of their economic background. This is the revolution in mission and values that the Social Mobility Index seeks to advance.”
Buffalo State also scored well in another national ranking of college social mobility and affordability. In its 2022 assessment of top performers, U.S. News and World Report ranked Buffalo State 20th out of 171 colleges and universities in the North Region for social mobility.