On April 24, UCR ranked 27 on Forbes’ list of the best value universities in the U.S. Last year,  UCR ranked 64. The list consists of public and private universities (excluding military institutions) that provide the greatest return on investment for students. Forbes rates the schools based on their quality, net price, student net debt, post-grad earnings, on-time graduation and access for low-income students. According to Forbes, the list is meant to display schools with “the highest quality and best financial outcomes.”

According to the list, information on UCR’s financial aid displays how it was critical in moving the school up on the list. It displays that in 2017, UCR provided 85 percent of students with some form of financial aid and that 81 percent of students received grants. When asked about his thoughts on UCR’s rank on Forbes list, Financial Aid Director Jose Aguilar stated, “It shows that we have a strong financial aid program.” Aguilar stated that the state grant, federal grant, Pell Grant, Cal Grant and UCR Grant allows students to manage paying for their tuition and other expenses at UCR. Aguilar described how those financial aid systems support the high number of first-generation and low-income students at UCR.

On the Forbes list, UCR’s rank also increased as a result of the number of students with Pell Grants since it shows the concentration the school has on creating more opportunities for low-income students. Forbes’ website displays that 53 percent of UCR students received Pell Grants in 2017. In an interview with the Highlander, CHASS Marketing and Communications Director Jeff Girod said, “Cost is a big obstacle, what we’re trying to do is provide access for everyone.”

Timely graduation was another factor that Forbes took into account when rating institutions, as they accounted for the added expenses that a student would have if they were enrolled longer.

“You’re actually saving by graduating earlier than taking that extra year,” emphasized Aguilar. “A lot of students don’t see that. They think if I stay an extra quarter or an extra year then I’ll get more financial aid,” Aguilar continued. He said that the net value a student is receiving is not going to compare to the loss of income for not working that year. Aguilar stated that he believes the campus leadership does a good job aiming to try to graduate students faster.

Aguilar also commented on how UCR resources such as the ARC, The Well and the Undergraduate Academic Advisory Programs, such as CHASS, CNAS and BCOE, help students navigate UCR in order to graduate on time. He stated, “I think it’s really critical and helpful to have those support programs for first-generation students to have that guidance.” Girod said that the Forbes list shows how UCR is one of the fastest rising universities in the country and also stated, “It’s a source of pride from the students, faculty and staff for what we already know.” Aguilar concluded by saying, “I think our students should be proud.”