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August 11, 2022 - Northern Kentucky University is in the top tier of colleges and universities in the United States when it comes to economic mobility and the return on investment for low-income students and Pell Grant recipients, according to a new report by the public policy think tank, Third Way. 

“This new report is a reflection that NKU is well on its way to realizing its vision of becoming nationally recognized as an institution that empowers diverse learners for economic and social mobility,” NKU President Ashish Vaidya said. “The faculty and staff here work hard each day to create real opportunity for our students.” 

Success by Design challenges the campus community to become a more student-ready, regionally engaged institution. The framework outlines three pillars of student success: Access, Completion and Career & Community Engagement. The “access” pillar of student success includes access to an affordable education through expanded programs, services, and delivery options. The “completion” pillar of student success assures that students who are first-generation, post-traditional, low-income, and underrepresented earn highly valued degrees, certificates, and credentials. Finally, the “career & community engagement” pillar guides NKU in contributing to economic, social, and civic prosperity of the region through talent development, research and innovation, and the stewardship of place. 

NKU, ranked nationally at No. 241 in the Third Way Economic Mobility Index, is the only Greater Cincinnati college or university in the top tier. Alice Lloyd College is the only other institution in the Commonwealth that is ranked in the top tier. 

The Third Way Economic Mobility Index aims to rank and evaluate universities based on how they serve low-income students, according to its website. The tier system is used to break down the rankings by placement percentage. By placing in the top tier, NKU is among the top 20 percent in economic mobility. 

This is latest in a series of recognitions NKU has received for providing the best value educational experience in Greater Cincinnati and the Commonwealth of Kentucky. In March, SmartAsset ranked NKU No. 1 on return on investment in Kentucky. More recently, World’s Universities with Real Impact named NKU as one of the most innovative universities in the world, higher than any institution in the Greater Cincinnati region and the Commonwealth of Kentucky. 

To read more on the Third Way report and its methodology, click here.

About NKU: Founded in 1968, NKU is an entrepreneurial state university of over 16,000 students served by more than 2,000 faculty and staff on a thriving suburban campus nestled between Highland Heights, Kentucky and bustling downtown Cincinnati. We are a regionally engaged university committed to empowering our students to have fulfilling careers and meaningful lives. While we are one of the fastest-growing universities in Kentucky, our professors still know our students' names. For more information, visit