The Top 20 American Universities for Underprivileged Students and Social Mobility

The Top 20 American Universities for Underprivileged Students and Social Mobility

According to U.S. News & World Report’s new rating and evaluation methodology, these are the nation’s best colleges and universities for social mobility. In other words, these are the best colleges for poor students in America.

In addition to graduate schools, hospitals, and mutual funds, the media company (U.S. News & World Report) has published rankings of American colleges and universities for 39 years.

This year, U.S. News and World Report improved its ranking methodology, enabling some universities to significantly improve their position among other national universities. Five long-used ranking factors by U.S. News were eliminated, while others were modified, and a greater emphasis was placed on the graduation rates of students from all socioeconomic backgrounds. A metric related to first-generation college students was also added.

U.S. News and World Report combined two factors related to the graduation rates of economically disadvantaged students who receive federal Pell Grants: six-year graduation rates and graduation rate performance, relative to students who did not have Pell Grants, in order to determine its social mobility rankings.

Even after taking into account their high school performance, students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds have a lower college completion rate than other students. However, some colleges are more effective than others at promoting social mobility by enrolling and graduating significant numbers of underprivileged students who have been awarded Pell Grants. These federal grants are given to students whose adjusted gross family incomes are under $50,000 in the vast majority of cases. The following institutions fared the best in terms of U.S. News’ social mobility ranking criteria, which also take into account borrower debt and college graduates’ earnings relative to those of high school graduates in addition to the two Pell Grant factors.

With the release of the 2024 Best Colleges list from the well-known annual listicle U.S. News & World Report, many universities across the nation saw changes to their rankings.

Whether they love it or hate it, a lot of students and parents look at the rankings each year when choosing a college. This year, U.S. News changed its methodology to place more emphasis on outcomes for college graduates in response to the frequent criticism that the rankings only reflect prestige and not quality.

Numerous state universities and smaller regional colleges experienced significant changes in their positions in the rankings. Examples include Florida Atlantic University, which rose 53 spots to tie for 209th, the University of Texas at San Antonio, which went from unranked to 280, and the University of Nevada at Reno, which dropped from 263 to 195.

Tuskegee University was ranked highly among regional and national universities and was one of the best performers in terms of social mobility.

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, the University of Illinois at Chicago, the University of South Florida, and Florida A&M all performed well on the metric, as did California State and University of California schools.

In a tie for 93rd place among all universities nationwide with Baylor, Gonzaga, the University of Iowa, and Loyola Marymount, Auburn is now the highest ranked institution in Alabama. The school was ranked 97th overall the previous year.

Samford University fell 58 places to 185th in Alabama, while the University of Alabama fell 33 spots to 170th.

In order to rank the nation’s universities, US News and World Report considered 19 indicators, with peer evaluation, graduation rates, and financial resources receiving the most weight. New ranking criteria on faculty research and first generation student graduation rates were also added to the National Universities methodology.

In order to put more emphasis on outcomes and rely on data that is consistently reported by schools, five ranking factors from the previous edition’s formula were eliminated: alumni giving, class size, high school class standing, the percentage of instructional faculty with terminal degrees, and the percentage of graduates who borrowed federal loans.

A frequent annoyance to small regional colleges, those measures were frequently gamed by colleges; some have even admitted to submitting false information. Last year, Stillman College in Tuscaloosa withdrew in protest from the rankings.

Best regional universities, best regional colleges, and best national liberal arts colleges all received their own rankings.

The social mobility rankings, which are a component of U.S. News’ outcomes measures, evaluate first-generation student performance and graduation rates as well as graduation rates for Pell Grant recipients at public universities like CSULB.

♦ Find out a full list of rankings, visit US News and World Reports here.

The private Mount Saint Mary’s University was established in 1925. Its 72-acre campus is home to 1,797 undergraduate students in total (fall 2022). The academic calendar is based on semesters. Regional Universities West lists Mount Saint Mary’s University at number eleven in the 2024 edition of Best Colleges. Its $48,132 in tuition and fees.

A small, Catholic university in Los Angeles called Mount Saint Mary’s University offers a liberal arts curriculum. More than two dozen academic majors and minors are available to undergraduate students at Mount Saint Mary’s University, and graduate students can pursue degrees in a variety of fields, including physical therapy.

The Mount University, also known as The Mount, gives students many opportunities to explore their spirituality through the campus ministry. Additionally, students can take part in campus customs like the Fall Fair and Spring Carnival by joining one of the nearly 40 organizations on campus.

Founded in 1994, California State University—Monterey Bay is a public university. The academic calendar is based on semesters. Regional Universities West is where California State University-Monterey Bay is ranked in the 2024 edition of Best Colleges. The cost of tuition and fees for in-state students is $7,353, while that for out-of-staters is $19,233.

Founded in 1957, California State University—Stanislaus is a public university. The campus is 228 acres in size, with a total undergraduate enrollment of 8,926 (fall 2022). The academic calendar is based on semesters. Regional Universities West places California State University—Stanislaus at number ten in the 2024 edition of Best Colleges. Out-of-state tuition and fees are $19,698, while in-state costs $7,818.

Founded in 1938, California State Polytechnic University—Pomona is a public university. 25181 undergraduate students are enrolled there overall (fall 2022), and the campus is 1,438 acres in size. The academic calendar is based on semesters. Regional Universities West is where California State Polytechnic University—Pomona is ranked in the 2024 edition of Best Colleges. Out-of-state tuition and fees are $19,318 while in-state costs $7,438.

California State Polytechnic University—Pomona, which is situated about 30 miles east of Los Angeles, provides a wide range of academic programs across its eight colleges, including master’s programs in business and political science. One of the top engineering programs in the nation is offered at the university, better known as Cal Poly Pomona, which produces about one in every fourteen engineers in the state of California. The Latin motto of Cal Poly Pomona, Instrumentum Disciplinae, is translated as “Application of Knowledge,” which reflects the school’s hands-on learning philosophy. For practical experience outside of the classroom, a political science major might work on a project at city hall, or a journalism student might intern at a newspaper.

In addition to their studies, Cal Poly Pomona Broncos varsity sports teams compete in the NCAA Division II California Collegiate Athletic Association, and there are more than 250 campus clubs and teams that students can join or participate on. Hilda Solis, the first Latina to serve in the U.S. cabinet, is one notable alum.

Private university Fresno Pacific University was established in 1944. The campus is 42 acres in size, has a total undergraduate enrollment of 1,744 (fall 2022), and is located in a suburban area. The academic calendar is based on semesters. Regional Universities West is where Fresno Pacific University is ranked in the 2024 edition of Best Colleges, at number 41. Its $35,558 in tuition and fees.

Private university La Sierra University was established in 1922. Its 150-acre campus is home to 1,263 undergraduate students in total (fall 2022). It makes use of an academic calendar based on quarters. La Sierra University is ranked #41 in Regional Universities West in the 2024 edition of Best Colleges. Its $35,910 in tuition and fees.

California State University—Channel Islands is a public institution. California State University—Channel Islands’ ranking in the 2024 edition of Best Colleges is Regional Universities West, #29. Its in-state tuition and fees are $6,817; out-of-state tuition and fees are $18,697.

Founded in 1947, California State University—Los Angeles is a public university. The campus is 175 acres in size and has a total undergraduate enrollment of 22,536 (fall 2022). The academic calendar is based on semesters. Regional Universities West lists California State University—Los Angeles at number 21 in the 2024 edition of Best Colleges. Out-of-state tuition and fees are $17,388 while in-state costs $6,814.

Cal State LA, also known as the California State University–Los Angeles, is a state university that is reasonably accessible to students who commute. Nearly 20 bus lines stop nearby, and there is a Metrolink train station there. Residence halls and apartments are available through the university for students who want to live on campus.

Gifted students can enroll in Cal State LA as early as age 11 through the institution’s Early Entrance Program. The NCAA Division II California Collegiate Athletic Association is where the Cal State LA athletic teams, known as the Golden Eagles, compete. At Cal State LA, there are about 100 undergraduate, graduate, pre-professional, and certificate programs available. Cal State LA offers graduate-level degree programs in areas such as social work, nursing, fine arts, and rehabilitation counseling. Billie Jean King, a former professional tennis player, Elizabeth Devine, a former producer of the television program CSI: Miami, and Art Leahy, a former CEO of the L.A. Metro transportation system are just a few of Cal State LA’s notable alumni.

Founded in 1857, San Jose State University is a public university. The campus is 154 acres in size, has a total undergraduate enrollment of 26,863 (fall 2022), and is located in an urban area. The academic calendar is based on semesters. Regional Universities West is where San Jose State University is ranked in the Best Colleges 2024 edition. Out-of-state students must pay $19,872 in tuition and fees while in-state students must pay $7,992.

Students who attend San Jose State University, or SJSU, are located in California’s bustling Silicon Valley and picturesque Bay Area. There are many on-campus housing options, including student apartments and suites, and the campus is situated in the heart of San Jose. Despite the fact that there is typically space for everyone who applies, freshman are not guaranteed housing on campus. At SJSU, there are over 350 student organizations to explore in addition to a Greek system that takes pride in its diversity. The school’s Spartans athletic teams, which compete primarily in the NCAA Division I Mountain West Conference, offer students another way to get involved by joining or supporting the teams. The Division I Football Bowl Subdivision was where the San Jose State football team played.

The school, among other schools, provides graduate students with programs through the Lucas Graduate School of Business. The university also runs distinctive research institutes that focus on the lives and compositions of Beethoven, a legendary composer, and Nobel Prize-winning author John Steinbeck. After graduating, about three-fourths of SJSU alumni remain in the Bay Area. Musician Stevie Nicks and author Amy Tan are two of the school’s most well-known alumni. In addition, SJSU has produced more than a dozen Olympic medalists, including boxer Chuck Adkins and runner Lee Evans.

St. Edward’s University is a private institution that was founded in 1885. It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 2,769 (fall 2022), its setting is urban, and the campus size is 160 acres. It utilizes a semester-based academic calendar. St. Edward’s University’s ranking in the 2024 edition of Best Colleges is Regional Universities West, #6. Its tuition and fees are $51,384.

Founded in 1989, California State University, San Marcos is a public university. Its 304-acre campus is home to 12,917 undergraduate students in total (fall 2022). The academic calendar is based on semesters. Regional Universities West is where California State University, San Marcos is ranked in the 2024 edition of Best Colleges. Out-of-state tuition and fees are $17,232, with in-state costs coming to $7,728.

Founded in 1947, California State University, Sacramento is a public university. The campus is 305 acres in size, has a total undergraduate enrollment of 28,389 (fall 2022), and is located in an urban area. The academic calendar is based on semesters. The Regional Universities West ranking for California State University, Sacramento in the Best Colleges edition of 2024 is #18. The cost of tuition and fees for in-state students is $7,602; for out-of-state students, it is $19,482.

At California State University, Sacramento, there are about 40 master’s programs and about 60 undergraduate degree options, including business and health. The Sacramento State University, also known as Sac State, provides a variety of opportunities for students to have fun outside of the classroom. They can attend the school’s numerous events, many of which are typically free, like concerts, comedic performances, and movie nights. Additionally, there are about 20 varsity sports teams for the Sacramento State Hornets, who play in the NCAA Division I Big Sky Conference. By joining the Green Army cheering section for the Hornets, Sac State students can support the school and the athletic teams off the field.

More than 300 student clubs and organizations, including more than 20 fraternities and sororities, are available to join at Sacramento State as well. Students can play pool, peruse the art gallery, and grab a bite to eat at the Riverfront Center and University Union building to take a break from their studies and extracurricular activities. Actor Tom Hanks, who received Academy Awards for his performances in the films Forrest Gump and Philadelphia, is a notable Sacramento State alumnus.

Public university University of Washington Tacoma was established in 1990. Its urban setting, total undergraduate enrollment of 4,090 (fall 2022), and campus size of 46 acres. It makes use of an academic calendar based on quarters. The University of Washington Tacoma is ranked #13 in Regional Universities West in the 2024 edition of Best Colleges. Out-of-state tuition and fees are $42,171 while in-state costs $12,817.

A public university is California State University—Northridge. Its 356-acre campus is home to 31,957 undergraduate students as of the fall of 2022. The academic calendar is based on semesters. Regional Universities West is where California State University—Northridge is ranked in the Best Colleges 2024 edition. In-state tuition and fees are $7069, while out-of-state costs are $18,949 for this institution.

Hope International University is a private institution that was founded in 1928. It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 590 (fall 2022), its setting is urban, and the campus size is 11 acres. It utilizes a 4-1-4-based academic calendar. Hope International University’s ranking in the 2024 edition of Best Colleges is Regional Universities West, #81. Its tuition and fees are $36,250.

Private Vanguard University of Southern California was established in 1920. The campus is 40 acres in size, has a total undergraduate enrollment of 1,958 (fall 2022), and is located in a suburban area. The academic calendar is based on semesters. Regional Universities West is where Vanguard University of Southern California is ranked in the Best Colleges 2024 edition. The total cost of attendance is $39,950.

A Pentecostal university called Vanguard University of Southern California is located in Costa Mesa, about 50 miles south of Los Angeles. About 20 different majors are available for undergraduate study at Vanguard, and graduate students can pursue master’s degrees in psychology, religion, nursing, or education. Many Vanguard students share their faith outside of the classroom by participating in community service initiatives that benefit Orange County’s elderly, young, and homeless. Although there aren’t any fraternities or sororities on campus, there are more than ten clubs where students can participate, including the Student Government Association.

One of the varsity sports teams for the Vanguard Lions, which compete in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics’ Golden State Athletic Conference, is open to student-athletes. Many Vanguard students spend their free time taking advantage of Costa Mesa’s pleasant climate and convenient location. Several shopping malls, Newport Beach, Disneyland, and two different zoos are all conveniently close to the Vanguard campus. Students can travel to Los Angeles in an hour, where they will find a variety of museums and professional teams in almost every sport.

California State University—Dominguez Hills is a public institution that was founded in 1960. It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 13,816 (fall 2022), its setting is suburban, and the campus size is 346 acres. It utilizes a semester-based academic calendar. California State University—Dominguez Hills’ ranking in the 2024 edition of Best Colleges is Regional Universities West, #38. Its in-state tuition and fees are $8,372.

Southwestern Assemblies of God University is a private institution that was founded in 1927. It has a campus size of 73 acres. It utilizes a semester-based academic calendar. Southwestern Assemblies of God University’s ranking in the 2024 edition of Best Colleges is Regional Universities West, #77. Its tuition and fees are $17,782.

Founded in 1970, Texas A&M International University is a public university. Its 300-acre campus is home to 6,979 undergraduate students in total (fall 2022). The academic calendar is based on semesters. Regional Universities West is where Texas A&M International University is ranked in the 2024 edition of Best Colleges, at position #44. $9,448 is the in-state tuition and fees, and $21,720 is the out-of-state tuition and fees.

Private university St. Mary’s University of San Antonio was established in 1852. The campus is 135 acres in size, with a total undergraduate enrollment of 2,001 (fall 2022). The academic calendar is based on semesters. Regional Universities West is where St. Mary’s University of San Antonio is ranked in the 2024 edition of Best Colleges. The total cost of attendance is $36,242.

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