UC Merced has distinguished itself as a top 10 choice for low-income students in the Western United States, according to a report released this week from a Washington, D.C.-based magazine.
The Washington Monthly College Guide ranks UC Merced as No. 8 in its “Best Bang for the Buck: Western Colleges,” a list of colleges helping students from low-income families attain degrees at affordable prices.
The campus also ranked No. 5 in the nation out of more than 300 universities for social mobility, which uses criteria such as net cost to attend, availability of financial aid, economic outcomes and student loan repayment. The university ranked No. 41 nationally in Washington Monthly’s overall rankings.
“It is so great to see UC Merced recognized among the best colleges and universities in the country so early in our history,” Chancellor Dorothy Leland said in a news release. “To be recognized for the value we offer students through affordability and social mobility shows that we are accomplishing our university’s mission to serve the best and brightest students from one of the most underserved regions in the state.”
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8Where UC Merced ranked on Washington Monthly’s“Best Bang for the Buck: Western Colleges” list
UC Merced was conceived more than a decade ago as a school that would better serve students growing up in the central San Joaquin Valley.
UC Merced outpaces all other UC campuses in drawing applicants who are low-income and those who are first-generation students, meaning neither of their parents earned a four-year college degree. Nearly 63 percent of freshmen invited to join the campus in fall 2016 are first-generation students, and 55 percent are from households earning less than $47,200.
California State University, Stanislaus, made the “Best Bang for the Buck” list at No. 5.
The magazine ranked Fresno State No. 25 on a list of the country’s top universities.
Washington Monthly picked Stanford University, Harvard University and MIT as the top three. The magazine states the ranking is its answer to the annual list compiled by U.S. News & World Report, which Washington Monthly criticizes for using “crude and easily manipulated measures of wealth, exclusivity and prestige to evaluate schools.”
41Where UC Merced ranked on Washington Monthly’s national list
Fresno State President Joseph Castro held a news conference Monday to celebrate the new rankings. While Fresno State has been recognized by Washington Monthly in the past, this is the first time the university has made the national list.
“To be ranked No. 25 on that list demonstrates that we really are being bold, and that boldness has been recognized on a national stage. What makes this ranking so important is how their measures are particularly meaningful to the Valley, state and nation,” Castro said.
Student lending marketplace LendEDU says students currently attending college in the United States leave with an average of more than $28,000 in student debt. At UC Merced, that number is about $21,000.
The Fresno Bee’s Mackenzie Mays contributed to this report.