The 10 Best College Towns In New York For 2020


Editor's Note: We updated this article for 2020. This is our time ranking the best college towns in New York.
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Believe it or not, America has the best colleges in the world. It's been proven by data (and surveys) that the U.S. educational system is of the highest quality

It's actually not even close and New York is home to a handful of them.

While we could debate which colleges within the are the 'best,' that's not the goal of this post.

Instead, ride along with us as we determine which college towns in New York are the best.

You know, the type of places where there's energy and stimulation, but the type of place you can walk around at night. The happiest, chillest, most downright fun places where you can send your kids off to college where you won't break the bank, or worry about their well being.

Without further ado, here are the best college towns in New York for 2020.

The 10 Best College Towns In New York For 2020

  1. Cortland, NY (Photos | Homes)
  2. Farmingdale, NY (Homes)
  3. Ithaca, NY (Photos | Homes)
  4. Poughkeepsie, NY (Photos | Homes)
  5. Nyack, NY (Photos | Homes)
  6. Geneseo, NY (Photos | Homes)
  7. Brockport, NY (Photos | Homes)
  8. New Paltz, NY (Photos | Homes)
  9. Plattsburgh, NY (Photos | Homes)
  10. Hempstead, NY (Photos | Homes)

While some of these may not seem like a 'real' college town per se, when you look at the numbers, it's hard to argue against.

And for those who live in Cortland, Farmingdale and Ithaca - we tip our hats to you and we'll schedule a tour for next week. You can see where Cortland ranks in terms of the best college town in America.

Finally, if you live in Lawrence, NY - it's officially the worst college town in New York. Sorry, Lawrence!

Read on to find out more or for more on New York check out:

The 10 Best College Towns In New York For 2020

Cortland, NY
Overall SnackAbility
8
/10

Population: 18,828
% Undergrad Pop.: 30.0% (14th best)
Median Rent: $736 (6th best)
Unemployment Rate: 380.9% (14th best)
Crime Rank: 6th best
More on Cortland: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Cortland is a city in Cortland County, New York, United States of America. Cortland is in New York's Southern Tier region. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 19,204. It is the county seat of Cortland County.

Colleges: SUNY Cortland

Overall SnackAbility
7
/10

Population: 8,842
% Undergrad Pop.: 57.1% (7th best)
Median Rent: $1,622 (42nd best)
Unemployment Rate: 233.3% (5th best)
Crime Rank: 28th best
More on Farmingdale: Real Estate | Data

The Incorporated Village of Farmingdale is an incorporated village on Long Island within the Town of Oyster Bay in Nassau County, New York, in the United States. The population was 8,189 at the 2010 Census.

Colleges: Farmingdale State College

Ithaca, NY
Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility
8
/10

Population: 30,568
% Undergrad Pop.: 46.7% (9th best)
Median Rent: $1,106 (24th best)
Unemployment Rate: 637.3% (32nd best)
Crime Rank: 46th best
More on Ithaca: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Ithaca is a city in the Southern Tier-Finger Lakes region of New York. It is the seat of Tompkins County, as well as the largest community in the Ithaca-Tompkins County metropolitan area. This area contains the municipalities of the Town of Ithaca, the village of Cayuga Heights, and other towns and villages in Tompkins County. The city of Ithaca is located on the southern shore of Cayuga Lake, in Central New York. It is named for the Greek island of Ithaca.

Colleges: Cornell University, Ithaca College, Finger Lakes School of Massage

Poughkeepsie, NY
Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility
6
/10

Population: 30,356
% Undergrad Pop.: 23.4% (18th best)
Median Rent: $1,096 (23rd best)
Unemployment Rate: 1058.2% (54th best)
Crime Rank: 11th best
More on Poughkeepsie: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Poughkeepsie, officially the City of Poughkeepsie, is a city in the state of New York, United States, which is the county seat of Dutchess County. As of the 2010 census it had a population of 32,736. Poughkeepsie is in the Hudson Valley midway between New York City and Albany, and is part of the New York metropolitan area. The name derives from a word in the Wappinger language, roughly U-puku-ipi-sing, meaning "the reed-covered lodge by the little-water place," referring to a spring or stream feeding into the Hudson River south of the present downtown area.

Colleges: Dutchess Community College, Marist College, Vassar College

Nyack, NY
Overall SnackAbility
7.5
/10

Population: 7,188
% Undergrad Pop.: 24.8% (17th best)
Median Rent: $1,637 (45th best)
Unemployment Rate: 98.8% (1st best)
Crime Rank: 28th best
More on Nyack: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Nyack is a village located primarily in the town of Orangetown in Rockland County, New York, United States. Incorporated in 1872, it retains a very small western section in Clarkstown. It is an inner-suburb of New York City lying approximately 19 miles north of the Manhattan boundary near the west bank of the Hudson River, situated north of South Nyack, east of Central Nyack, south of Upper Nyack.

Colleges: Nyack College

Geneseo, NY
Overall SnackAbility
6
/10

Population: 8,096
% Undergrad Pop.: 64.2% (5th best)
Median Rent: $869 (17th best)
Unemployment Rate: 444.7% (19th best)
Crime Rank: 28th best
More on Geneseo: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Geneseo is a town in Livingston County in the Finger Lakes region of New York, United States on the far south end of the five-county Rochester Metropolitan Area. The population was 10,483 at the 2010 census. The town and surrounding area is quite rural. The English name "Geneseo" is an anglicization of the Iroquois name for the earlier Iroquois town there, Gen-nis-he-yo. A village of the same name lies within the town's western portion. The town is known today mainly as the home of the highly selective State University of New York at Geneseo.

Colleges: SUNY College at Geneseo

Brockport, NY
Overall SnackAbility
6
/10

Population: 8,350
% Undergrad Pop.: 80.9% (3rd best)
Median Rent: $848 (16th best)
Unemployment Rate: 788.3% (43rd best)
Crime Rank: 28th best
More on Brockport: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Brockport is a village in the Town of Sweden, with two tiny portions in the Town of Clarkson, in Monroe County, New York, USA. The population was 8,336 at the 2010 census. The name is derived from Heil Brockway, an early settler.

Colleges: SUNY College at Brockport

New Paltz, NY
Overall SnackAbility
7
/10

Population: 7,175
% Undergrad Pop.: 84.0% (2nd best)
Median Rent: $1,309 (27th best)
Unemployment Rate: 873.5% (48th best)
Crime Rank: 28th best
More on New Paltz: Real Estate | Data | Photos

New Paltz is a town in Ulster County, New York, United States. The population was 14,003 at the 2010 census. The town is located in the southeastern part of the county and is south of Kingston. New Paltz contains a village also with the name New Paltz. The town is named for Palz, the dialect name of the Rhenish Palatinate, called Pfalz ) in standard German.

Colleges: State University of New York at New Paltz

Plattsburgh, NY
Overall SnackAbility
7
/10

Population: 19,515
% Undergrad Pop.: 27.6% (15th best)
Median Rent: $810 (13th best)
Unemployment Rate: 468.2% (20th best)
Crime Rank: 28th best
More on Plattsburgh: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Plattsburgh is a city in and the seat of Clinton County, New York, United States. The population was 19,989 at the 2010 census. The population of the unincorporated areas within the Town of Plattsburgh was 11,870 as of the 2010 census, making the population for the immediate Plattsburgh region 31,859.

Colleges: SUNY College at Plattsburgh, Clinton Community College, Clinton Essex Warren Washington BOCES

Hempstead, NY
Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility
6
/10

Population: 55,399
% Undergrad Pop.: 16.9% (20th best)
Median Rent: $1,403 (33rd best)
Unemployment Rate: 430.6% (16th best)
Crime Rank: 28th best
More on Hempstead: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Hempstead is one of the three towns in Nassau County, New York, United States, occupying the southwestern part of the county, in the western half of Long Island. Twenty-two incorporated villages are completely or partially within the town. Hempstead's combined population was 759,757 at the 2010 Census, the majority of the population of the county and by far the most of any town in New York. Also, a village named Hempstead is within the Town.

Colleges: Hofstra University, Franklin Career Institute, Long Island Beauty School-Hempstead

How'd we figure out the best college towns in New York?

To crunch our data on New York's best college towns, we had to first decide which qualities (or rankings) make sense to use in the data, and then crunch the numbers for our rankings.

First off, we firmly decided that only cities with a 4 year college should make the cut -- so there has to be at least one college granting bachelors degrees in town.

You might be surprised to hear that there are only 44 places in New York with an institution of higher learning with that criteria.

Source of data include OpenStreetMaps, the College Scorecard, the U.S. Census, and FBI reporting data to include the following factors:

  • Students Make Up Large % of the Population
  • College-specific Factors
    • Graduation rate
    • Tuition Cost
    • Student Body Diversity
  • Town Characteristics
    • Safety
    • Affordability
    • Income and Employment Opportunities
  • Things to Do
    • Bars
    • Museums & Libraries
    • Population Density

We ranked each city across each of the criteria, with one being the best.

We rolled up the individual scores into the category and ranked them again based on the category.

Finally, we took the average rank across each category, with the city posting the lowest overall score being crowned the winner of the title "Best College Town In New York For 2020".

And it looks like Cortland placed Summa Cum Laude.

There You Have It -- The Best College Towns In The

If you're looking for the best college towns in New York, you came to the right place.

These places all have great college sports programs, tons of stuff to do, and are great places to raise a family.

If you're curious, these are the worst college towns in New York, starting with the absolute worst, Lawrence:

  1. Lawrence
  2. Utica
  3. Mount Kisco
  4. Peekskill
  5. Monsey
  6. Glen Cove
  7. Jamestown
  8. Dix Hills
  9. Rochester
  10. Dobbs Ferry

For more reading, check out:

44 Best College Towns In New York

Rank City Population
1 Cortland, NY 18828
2 Farmingdale, NY 8842
3 Ithaca, NY 30568
4 Poughkeepsie, NY 30356
5 Nyack, NY 7188
6 Geneseo, NY 8096
7 Brockport, NY 8350
8 New Paltz, NY 7175
9 Plattsburgh, NY 19515
10 Hempstead, NY 55399
11 Potsdam, NY 9281
12 Albany, NY 97889
13 New York, NY 8443713
14 Stony Brook, NY 12641
15 Saratoga Springs, NY 27772
16 Hamburg, NY 9618
17 New Rochelle, NY 79205
18 Troy, NY 49610
19 Rockville Centre, NY 24442
20 Syosset, NY 19559
21 Buffalo, NY 257518
22 Bronxville, NY 6394
23 Oneonta, NY 13834
24 Canton, NY 6501
25 Fredonia, NY 10637
26 Syracuse, NY 143293
27 Oswego, NY 17588
28 Bethpage, NY 17215
29 Monroe, NY 8578
30 Geneva, NY 12888
31 Newburgh, NY 28282
32 Elmira, NY 27695
33 Schenectady, NY 65482
34 White Plains, NY 58040
35 Dobbs Ferry, NY 11027
36 Rochester, NY 207778
37 Dix Hills, NY 26819
38 Jamestown, NY 29799
39 Glen Cove, NY 27226
40 Monsey, NY 22073
41 Peekskill, NY 24008
42 Mount Kisco, NY 10894
43 Utica, NY 60675
44 Lawrence, NY 6535

Best College Towns By State

Enjoy The Snack?