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The New York Times Magazine Ranks Salem College No. 2 in the Nation for Economic Diversity

WINSTON-SALEM, NC (SEPTEMBER 12, 2023)—In its Education Issue, The New York Times Magazine ranked Salem College No. 2 in the nation for economic diversity as part of its comprehensive College-Access Index.  Salem College—topped only by Kentucky’s Berea College at No. 1–was the only school in North Carolina to be included in the Index’s Top 100 for economic diversity.

The New York Times Magazine published its College-Access Index to showcase the country’s most-selective universities ranked in order of economic diversity. The College-Access Index was first published in 2014, and prior to this year, most recently in 2017. In its 2023 College-Access Index, The New York Times Magazine measured economic diversity by analyzing the share of students receiving Pell Grants.

In addition to Salem placing No. 2 on the College-Access Index in terms of percentage of first-year students who were Pell eligible, the Index pointed out that Salem’s percentage of Pell eligible students increased by 16% during the last decade-plus, giving Salem the fourth-highest growth rate among Pell eligible students in the United States.

The list covers the 286 most-selective colleges in the country as defined by Barron’s Profiles of American Colleges and other metrics. The colleges, both public and private, together educate about 2.7 million undergraduates.

“Salem is proud to be a leader in promoting economic diversity in higher education and for the social mobility opportunities we create for our students,” Salem Academy and College President Summer Johnson McGee, Ph.D., CPH, said. “This latest New York Times Magazine ranking, combined with our recent Washington Monthly rankings, clearly demonstrates a common theme: Salem College is one of the top institutions in the nation for ensuring access to education regardless of socioeconomic background.”

“Our commitment to student success ensures our students graduate at higher rates than our peer institutions and also go on to have strong earnings performance,” she said. “Salem has enjoyed a longstanding high social mobility ranking from U.S. News & World Report, and we were particularly pleased with Washington Monthly’s recent ranking, which placed Salem College at No. 1 in graduates’ Projected Earning Performance in North Carolina among all Southeast colleges and universities.”

David Leonhardt and Ashley Wu, reporting for The New York Times Magazine, noted in the story, “the data show over the past decade that some of these selective colleges, especially those with large endowments, have enrolled more students who are economically disadvantaged.” Salem College, with an endowment much smaller than that of Berea College, and a number of other elite institutions, is able to make education affordable by maximizing state and federal funds for students.

“Salem College is lucky to be located in North Carolina where our students can receive the North Carolina Need Based Scholarship, meaning we are able to leverage federal and state student aid to make education affordable for our students, “McGee added. “We are very thankful to the members of our legislature for their ongoing support of Pell eligible students in North Carolina.”

In its annual review of college and universities recently released, Washington Monthly 2023 College Rankings included Salem College among the Top 25 Liberal Arts Colleges in the United States, one of only two North Carolina colleges in the top 25. Ranked 24th overall, Salem College was also ranked 4th in the nation for graduation rate performance and 8th for the earning performance of its graduates. In its ranking of institutions providing the “Best Bang for the Buck,” Salem College placed 14th among all colleges and universities in the Southeast.

About Salem Academy and College

Salem Academy and College is the nation’s oldest educational institution for girls and women in the United States. Salem Academy is intentionally focused on STEAM to transform students’ education through the holistic integration of rigorous academic and co-curricular experiences that build character and leadership. Salem College provides a liberal arts education with a distinctive focus on health across the curriculum and co-curriculum, preparing students to make the world a better, healthier, and more equitable place. Salem College is the only national liberal arts college exclusively focused on developing the health leaders of tomorrow.

For more than 250 years, Salem Academy and College has empowered and prepared girls and women from all around the world to effect change, shatter expectations and lead. Salem Academy and College is located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, a vibrant educational community known for arts and innovation. For more information about Salem Academy, please visit For more information about Salem College, please visit

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Steve Bumgarner, Capture Public Relations & Marketing
(336) 722-9660

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