student studying on UCR campus
August 12, 2019

Latest rankings place UCR at No. 12 among U.S. colleges

Money magazine's Best Colleges for Your Money rewards increase in six-year graduation rates

Author: J.D. Warren
August 12, 2019

UC Riverside jumped 20 places — to No. 12 in the U.S. and No. 9 among public universities — in a prestigious college ranking list published annually by Money magazine.

As the trend of shifting formulas among the top rankings lists continues, Chancellor Kim Wilcox said UCR’s stature as a leading public university grows. 

“It is deeply gratifying to see the national rankings systems having moved so profoundly toward recognizing what UCR does well: maintaining an environment of both research excellence and success for students of all backgrounds,” Wilcox said. 

The No. 12 ranking in Money magazine’s Best Colleges for Your Money 2019, released Aug. 12, sandwiches UCR in the midst of schools including University of Virginia, No. 10; UC Berkeley, No. 11, and Harvard University, No. 14. UC Irvine is No. 1 on the list. 

Among universities that accept half of their applicants, UCR ranked No. 1 in the country, just ahead of Texas A&M and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

UCR was also ranked the No. 1 public university in the country, and No. 4 overall, on Money's "Most Transformative Colleges" list.

The Money magazine list considers universities with at least 500 students that have the required data available, are on sound financial footing, and have a graduation rate at over above the median in their respective categories. In UCR’s case, that means public universities. 

Its formula scores universities based on 26 factors in three categories, which include quality, affordability, and outcomes. Quality speaks to graduation rates, including the number of low-income students at an institution. Affordability factors the net cost students pay after aid, borrowing, and repayment. Outcomes considers alumni salary data and social mobility, which is the degree to which students move out of the lowest income brackets.

A study by then-Stanford University — now Harvard University — economist Raj Chetty published in 2017 rated UCR No. 20 of 369 universities in its success moving students from the bottom fifth to the top fifth of income brackets. 

UCR also graduates among the most Pell Grant, or low-income, students in the country. Its six-year Pell Grant graduation rate recently registered 75 percent —25 percentage points higher than the national average. More than 50 percent of UCR’s undergraduates are Pell Grant recipients.

A Money magazine editor said UC Riverside benefited this year from a two-point bump in its six-year graduation rates, a lower net cost for a degree, better student loan repayment rates, and higher alumni earnings.

Steven Brint, a UCR distinguished professor and an expert in American higher education, said the Money magazine rankings are reflective of those gains.

“Over the last few years, our graduation rates have increased dramatically,” said Brint, who in 2018 authored “Two Cheers for Higher Education: Why American Universities Are Stronger Than Ever — and How to Meet the Challenges They Face.” “It is nice to see that national rankings are beginning to reflect not just price and selectivity but also the value campuses add to the life chances of the students they admit.”

This past year, UCR was the country’s fastest-rising university in the U.S. News & World Report rankings, moving 39 positions. Also, this past year, UCR ranked No. 28 on Washington Monthly’s rankings; and No. 27 on Forbes magazine’s America’s Best Value Colleges list; the latter represented a climb of 37 positions from the previous year. In the just-released World University Rankings, UCR moved up 41 spots and is now among the top 1% of the world’s universities. 

Washington Monthly’s 2019 list will publish this month. The latest U.S. News rankings, the most cited among the college lists, will be published in September.