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published on September 9, 2019 - 11:29 AM
Written by The Business Journal Staff

Central Valley universities are getting a nod for academic performance nationally.

While Princeton and Harvard Universities rounded out the top two rankings overall, U.S. News and World Report ranked Fresno State No. 3 for graduation rates and Fresno Pacific University No. 4 for Top Performers on Social Mobility.

University of California Merced also climbed to a tie with 12 other colleges at No. 104 from No. 136 in overall ranking for national universities.

The media company, known for its rankings, released its 2020 Best Colleges list of over 1,400 colleges and universities on Sept. 9.

“At Fresno State, we believe that talent exists in every household,” said Joseph I. Castro, Fresno State president in a press release. “These rankings show that through educating and empowering our students to obtain an academic degree, we are unleashing this talent to prepare a new generation of bold leaders for the Central Valley, the state and beyond.”

This is the third consecutive year for Fresno State to make it into the top three for public universities. Among all universities, they ranked No. 4 up from No. 5 last year. The recently reclassified Carnegie doctoral university ranked at No. 101 overall for public universities, climbing up from No. 112.

Fresno State also ranked No. 6 for having the least amount of debt among public universities. It ranked No. 211 in the general category among all universities and No. 101 among public universities.

Fresno Pacific ranked No. 31 in the magazine’s Regional Universities West category and No. 35 for Best Value Schools. The Top Performers on Social Mobility is a new list for U.S. News. It compares a school’s graduation rates for students who receive Pell Grants. The private, Mennonite Brethren school ranked among Regional West Schools.

“We’re proud of that No. 4 ranking for social mobility. For us, it shows that our Pell Grant students graduate at the same rate as all of our students,” said Jon Endicott, vice president for enrollment management and student services. “And so with half of our students on a Pell Grant, we’re proud that those students are just as successful and graduate on time.”

Pell Grants are generally awarded to students whose families’ net income does not exceed $50,000.

Fresno State scored No. 27 in the Social Mobility category among all universities. UC Merced scored No. 7.

The graduation-rate performance category uses the university’s six-year graduation rate and compares it to predicted performance based on admissions data, school financial resources, the proportion of federal financial aid recipients who are first-generation (a new factor), math and science orientations and the proportion of undergraduates receiving Pell grants.


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