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UCSD ranked 4th in US for enrolling lower-, middle-income students

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LA JOLLA, Calif. — UC San Diego ranks fourth in the U.S. in the New York Times’ third annual College Access Index, based on a combination of the number of lower-and middle-income students that a college enrolls and the price it charges those students.

Categories on the list included the number of enrolled freshmen, the percentage given Pell Grants, and the net amount charged to middle-income families.

To make the list, a college needs to graduate at least 75 percent of its students within five years. Of the 171 that qualified, most were smaller, private universities.

Larger, public universities have responded to state funding cutbacks by enrolling fewer poor and middle-class students and replacing them with others from affluent backgrounds who can afford the tuition, the newspaper reported.

While UCSD earned a high place in the rankings released Thursday, the Times pointed out that 46 percent of freshmen in the 2011-12 class received Pell Grants, while only 26 percent did in last fall’s group. Other UC campuses also showed declining portions of less-affluent students, just not as much.

UC San Diego tweeted its ranking but didn’t immediately comment.

The change for UC schools was largely due to growth in enrollment, with the raw numbers of middle- and lower-income students remaining about the same, according to the newspaper. However, the growth has led to crowded campuses and housing shortages that lead to increased rents.

Even with the declining percentages of less-affluent students, University of California campuses took the top five places in the index — in order, Irvine, Santa Barbara, Davis, San Diego and Los Angeles.

No other San Diego university attained the 75 percent, five-year graduation rate cutoff.

Other California colleges listed were Pomona College, 8; UC Berkeley, 9; Stanford, 15, Claremont McKenna, 63; USC, 89; Pepperdine, 140; and Santa Clara, 150.