March 18, 2023

UC Riverside is No. 1 for retaining Pell Grant freshmen

The Chronicle of Higher Education considered how many students from low-income families returned for their second year

Author: J.D. Warren
March 18, 2023

A report from The Chronicle of Higher Education gives UC Riverside a No. 1 ranking in freshmen retention rates. UCR is ranked alongside 24 other campuses nationwide that lead the charge in serving low-income students.  

Like other rankings that have meaningful underpinnings, the list is nuanced. The ranking is found in the Chronicle’s 88-page “Recruiting and Retaining Students in a Challenging Market” special report, under the category of “Pell Recipients and Retention.” The No. 1 ranking is from a list of 25 universities titled, “Colleges With Highest Freshmen-Retention Rates Where Pell Recipients Make Up at Least 50% of Undergraduates.”  

According to The Chronicle’s analysis, 89.6% of UCR’s Pell Grant freshmen entering in fall 2018 returned in fall 2019. In fall 2018, 52.7% of UCR’s students received a Pell Grant, which is awarded to low-income households. 

“This is a meaningful ranking in that it not only acknowledges universities that both serve low-income students and give them the tools they need to succeed in their first year of college, but also recognizes the grit and determination of the excellent students we are privileged to teach,” said Emily Engelschall, associate vice chancellor for enrollment services at UCR.  

UCR is the lone University of California campus to make the top 25 list. Other universities ranked include Arizona State, Georgia State, and Florida A&M.  

UCR received a No. 3 national ranking, and No. 1 among public universities, on a second Chronicle list — a list of universities with the highest graduation rates that have at least 50% Pell Grant students. For the UCR class that entered in fall 2013, the six-year graduation rate was 75.2%. The list was topped by Tuskegee University, with Boricua College No. 2. The only other UC on the list is Merced, at No. 10. 

UCR was No. 21 on a third Chronicle list in the “Recruiting and Retaining Students” publication, for public doctoral institutions with the highest graduation rates for Black students. The list, which also factored the class entering in fall 2013, was led by the University of Virginia, the College of William & Mary, and UNC Chapel Hill. UCLA was the only other California university to make the top 25 list. 

This past fall, Washington Monthly named UCR No. 4 among 444 universities nationwide in its Pell Grant student performance. Also this past fall, for the fourth consecutive year, UCR was named the top public university in the nation for social mobility, which measures the degree to which universities elevate their graduates into higher income brackets. 

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