Alfred University News

Alfred, New York named the ultimate college town

Known for being friendly and offering a warm welcome even in the winter, Alfred, NY is ranked number one in a February 2023 nationwide survey to earn the nickname College Town USA for the home of Alfred University and Alfred State College.

Data analysis by Washington Post Reporter Andrew Van Dam defined the Ultimate College Town by ranking US Census Urban Areas with the largest share of college students. Urban Areas follow population-density patterns, not municipal borders.

Alfred is No. 1 by a wide margin. Winning the number one national ranking for the Ultimate College Town proves that Alfred's picture-perfect environment away from big city worries stands out among all other university and college towns in the country. Van Dam called Alfred “the collegiest” a term he coined.

Van Dam describes Alfred as a village wedged into Western New York’s hills that is home to both a private and public school, Alfred University and Alfred State College. As noted in the Washington Post, "Students make up an astonishing 85 percent of the town's population... If you go left at the town's only stoplight, you're on one campus. Turn right, you're on the other. Now that's a college town."

Alfred is at the center of the US Northeast. Located along the I-86 freeway, Alfred is a convenient and attractive college town for students from a wide region and around the world. According to NASA's Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC), there are 104,464,746 people within 350 miles of Alfred. That amounts to approximately one-third of the US population.

Students across New York and from many states choose Alfred to take advantage of a caring academic community, enjoy low student-to-faculty ratios for personal attention, and be part of something special.

Alfred University President Dr. Mark Zupan said, “While there is only one traffic light in Alfred, there are plentiful and potent intersections that benefit faculty, students, and staff—including those offered by our sister school, Alfred State College, and the friendly surrounding village. Set in a safe, bucolic valley in the Finger Lakes region of New York, our students make bold discoveries by pursuing multiple pathways and integrating their interests. Alfred University’s purpose is to help our students identify and realize their purpose. The combination of our small size, wide range of programs, applied learning opportunities, and commitment to student engagement through mentoring allows Alfred University to be a talent incubator and socioeconomic development engine.”

Alfred State College (ASC) President Dr. Steven Mauro said, “Living in the Ultimate College Town gives you access to both beautiful campuses and a supportive tight-knit community, including world-class faculty who judge their achievements by how students succeed at launching their careers. With students making up 85 percent of all residents in our village, you know we are student-centered. Great ideas and innovations are shared across Main Street, many alumni met their spouses at the sister school, and everyone benefits from the wealth of recreation to share fun, fitness, and fellowship in such a friendly environment.”

Village of Alfred Mayor Becky Prophet '70 said, “In this beautiful valley of Western New York, the word Alfred is applied to three communities that coalesce into a single multifaceted gem. The Village of Alfred, nestled between the two schools, makes an intersection and a gathering place for the valley. There is nothing like the sum of the Alfreds anywhere in the US or, perhaps, in the world. We are the most collegiate of all college towns. We are an excellent place to grow up. We are a fine place to raise a family. But most of all, Alfred is the best place to combine daily life and learning. In Alfred, we live to learn and learn to live for all of our lives.”

Top 25 Ultimate College Towns
Nat'l Rank US Census Urban Areas State Student Share Population Higher Education Institutions
1 Alfred NY 84.6% 4,500 Alfred University & SUNY Alfred State College
2 Prairie View TX 77.8% 6,161 Prairie View A&M University
3 Slippery Rock PA 67.3% 6,550 Slippery Rock University
4 Cedarville OH 67.0% 4,204 Cedarville University
5 Oxford OH 62.3% 22,933 Miami University of Ohio
6 Air Force Acad. CO 59.9% 2,833 United States Air Force Academy
7 Potsdam NY 59.8% 8,337 SUNY Potsdam and Clarkson University
8 Hamilton NY 59.7% 3,863 Colgate University
9 Geneseo NY 58.8% 8,288 SUNY Geneseo
10 Athens OH 55.9% 27,450 Ohio University
11 Boone NC 54.8% 22,323 Appalachian State University
12 Delhi NY 54.8% 3,046 SUNY Delhi
13 Middlebury VT 54.6% 5,563 Middlebury College
14 Kutztown PA 52.2% 8,859 Kutztown University of Pennsylvania
15 Whitewater WI 51.6% 14,346 University of Wisconsin, Whitewater
16 Pullman WA 51.1% 32,940 Washington State University
17 Raymond MS 50.9% 2,689 Hinds Community College
18 Canton NY 49.5% 7,041 SUNY Canton and St. Lawrence University
19 Ada OH 48.0% 5,137 Ohio Northern University
20 Dahlonega GA 47.8% 5,588 University of North Georgia
21 Cullowhee NC 47.8% 10,363 Western Carolina University
22 Cazenovia NY 46.1% 2,860 Cazenovia College
23 Ithaca NY 45.9% 56,833 Cornell University and Ithaca College
24 New Concord OH 45.1% 2,836 Muskingum University
25 Lexington VA 43.8% 9,435 Washington & Lee U and Virginia Military Inst.


New York State is home to the most and highest-ranked Ultimate College Towns. The Washington Post report on Ultimate College Towns shows that New York has a greater number of towns than any other state where students are more than half the local population. Five towns with the 50+ percent honor are in New York. Ohio has three such college towns and Pennsylvania has two. Fifteen out of the top 150 ranked college towns are in New York State. Number one is the college town of Alfred, home of Alfred University and Alfred State College.

State University of New York (SUNY) institutions and private schools are represented in the New York list. SUNY originally coordinated all 64 locations for colleges and universities so that 93 percent of New Yorkers live within 15 miles of a higher education provider, and nearly 100 percent live within 30 miles. Colleges outside cities are near an abundance of outdoor recreation to offer college students a great place to learn, grow, seek their purpose in life, and focus on building skills for a successful future.

New York’s Ultimate College Towns
Nat'l Rank US Census Urban Areas State Student Share Population Higher Education Institutions
1 Alfred NY 84.60% 4,500 Alfred University & SUNY Alfred State College
7 Potsdam NY 59.80% 8,337 SUNY Potsdam and Clarkson University 
8 Hamilton NY 59.70% 3,863 Colgate University
9 Geneseo NY 58.80% 8,288 SUNY Geneseo
12 Delhi NY 54.80% 3,046 SUNY Delhi
18 Canton NY 49.50% 7,041 SUNY Canton and St. Lawrence University
22 Cazenovia NY 46.10% 2,860 Cazenovia College
23 Ithaca NY 45.90% 56,833 Cornell University and Ithaca College
61 Oneonta NY 33.20% 16,369 SUNY Oneonta
80 West Point NY 29.30% 11,824 West Point Academy
88 Cobleskill NY 21.50% 5,184 SUNY Cobleskill
97 Red Hook NY 26.90% 6,034 Bard College
129 Dryden NY 21.90% 3,623 SUNY Tompkins Cortland CC
135 Brockport NY 21.20% 18,009 SUNY Brockport
150 Cortland NY 20.30% 26,325 SUNY Cortland


The full list of Ultimate College Town rankings by the Washington Post is based on US Census Urban Area Data. NASA's Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) is the source of information regarding the 104 million people surrounding Alfred.


Village of Alfred History, by Mayor Becky Prophet '70

Alfred, the village, has been a town centered on education since 1836. By 1856, the small school had become Alfred University. Alfred University, founded as a co-educational place of learning that embraced diversity with persons of both sexes and all races sharing classes and a full curriculum was a college imbued with the powerful progressive values of the mid-19th century. Faculty and students hosted Frederick Douglass and leaders of the Women's Suffrage movement. In 1900 with the creation of the New York State School of Clay Working at Alfred, the University added ceramic art and engineering colleges to the institution. In 1908, the creation of an agriculture program and later the School for American Craftsmen expanded the educational opportunities for prospective students. Alfred State College was spun off from the University in 1948 with the founding of the State University of New York (SUNY) system, to become an energetic school with programs originally based on agricultural, vocational, and technical education. Both institutions of higher education have grown in the variety of programs. Students, teachers, researchers, and makers from all over the US and much of the world find their way to Alfred. Many stay, making the Village as diverse as the colleges.