Our rankings are based on college towns that report the lowest violent crimes and property crimes per 1,000 residents.
We use the most recent FBI statistics, which currently include crime and population data reported for 2019.3 This data doesn’t capture the complete picture. Still, it’s the most consistent and comprehensive crime information available on a national level.
To qualify for our ranking list, towns must have populations of 15,000 or more that were home to accredited colleges with four-year degrees. This data is sourced from College Scorecard.4 Our ranking excludes for-profit institutions, technical and vocational schools, schools that offer only two-year degrees, and those with fewer than 2,000 students enrolled annually.
For our ranking, 50% of the score was determined by the number of violent crimes per 1,000. The additional 50% of the score was determined by the number of property crimes per 1,000. We omitted all locations with missing FBI violent crime or property crime data.
Each measurement was normalized on a 0–1 scale with 1 corresponding to the measurement that would most positively affect the final score. These adjusted measurements were then added together with the weights mentioned above to get a score of 100.
We ranked 422 cities this year, compared to 457 cities last year. Both rankings used the same filtering criteria.
We also looked at the COVID-19 vaccination policy for the largest college in each town, but this factor was not part of our ranking. Vaccination requirements were individually sourced from each school’s website.
For more information, read our full methodology.
For the purposes of this report, the terms “safest” and “dangerous” refer explicitly to crime rates as calculated from FBI crime data—no other characterization of any community is implied or intended.
Let’s highlight some statistics and trends surrounding the safest college towns in America this year:
- Massachusetts had the most college towns on our safety list with 10 towns. California had the second most with 6, Illinois had 5, and Connecticut had 4.
- Madison, NJ, ranks third on our list and is home to Fairleigh Dickinson University (Florham Campus). The town stands out for having had just one reported violent incident.
- The average violent crime rate among the 10 most dangerous college towns is 16.0 incidents per 1,000 people. That’s 16 times higher than the average violent crime rate in the 50 safest college towns.
- The 50 safest college towns have a low property crime rate average of 8.2 incidents per 1,000. The average property crime rate for the 10 most dangerous college towns is nearly 8 times higher at 62.8 per 1,000 people.
- Paying to be safe: The average cost of in-state tuition for the largest schools in the top 50 safest college towns is $27,061. The average tuition jumps up to $32,428 for out-of-state students.