UC campuses earn spots on list of country’s best-value colleges

Karen Chow/File

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On Aug. 12, UC Irvine was rated as the country’s best-value college on Money’s 2019 list of “Best Colleges for Your Money.” Six other UC campuses were ranked within the top 30, including UC Berkeley, which was placed at No. 11.

Money ranked U.S. colleges by comparing data in three categories — described as quality of education, affordability and outcomes — according to the publication’s website. Within these categories, factors such as six-year graduation rates, net price of a degree, debt and graduates’ earnings were considered.

To determine a school’s “quality of education,” Money also considered the outcomes for its students who receive Pell Grants, which are grants awarded to low-income students, according to the Money website. According to a UC press release on Aug. 12, the estimates from Money show that “UC Irvine’s graduation rate for Pell Grant recipients is 30 percent higher than similar institutions.”

“I am delighted to see UC Irvine become the first-ever public university to score the top spot,” said UC President Janet Napolitano in the press release.

UC Berkeley spokesperson Michael Dirda said in an email that he feels that UC institutions have relatively low tuition costs and high graduation rates, as well as measures for graduates that indicate low debt and high after-graduation incomes, all of which lead to high scores for UC campuses from Money.

According to Dirda, in the past eight years, tuition for in-state students within the UC system has only increased once — something he hopes makes UC campuses more affordable for Californians and helps to provide “upward mobility” for students in California.

“These rankings reflect both Berkeley and the UC system’s commitment to providing an excellent, affordable education that puts students on a path to success in their lives and careers,” Dirda said in the email.

Jiang Sizhe, a UC Berkeley student, said that though it’s hard for him to compare his experience to that of students at other colleges, he thought the rankings would be positive for the school and could encourage others to apply to and attend UC Berkeley.

Dirda agreed with these sentiments and said he hopes that UC Berkeley’s high ranking will demonstrate to prospective students the feasibility and advantages of attending a UC campus.

“(We) hope that (Money’s) publication shows even more talented students that a UC education is both within reach and a great investment,” Dirda said in the email.

Contact Ella Langenthal at [email protected].