In the most recent Princeton Review college survey, UCI ranked ninth among America’s public universities for best value. The ratings service cited UCI’s stellar academics, affordability through comparatively lower tuition costs and generous financial aid, and strong career prospects for graduates.
And on Sept. 7, The New York Times posted its College-Access Index, a list of the country’s 286 most selective universities ranked in order of economic diversity. The newspaper first published the College-Access Index in 2014 and then again in 2017. In both cases, UCI ranked first.
In this updated version with adjusted methodology, the Times measured economic diversity by analyzing the share of students receiving Pell Grants, typically awarded to those whose families are in the bottom half of income distribution. UCI ranked 16th overall, making it the highest-rated public institution in California and tied for highest-rated among the prestigious Association of American Universities.
Currently, 38 percent of UCI’s undergraduates receive federal Pell Grants, with an average $24,000 endowment per student, according to the Times’ survey. The campus is among the best in the nation for the graduation rate of its Pell Grant recipients. In 2023, 3,636 earned bachelor’s degrees.
Such rankings are nothing new for UCI, which regularly appears on lists of the best value universities in America. The campus is particularly supportive of California’s first-generation students and those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Helping them afford a world-class education is the University of California’s Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan, which ensures that eligible in-state students will not have to pay UC’s systemwide tuition and fees out of their own pockets – and that’s just for starters. Blue and Gold students with sufficient financial need can qualify for even more grant aid to help reduce the cost of attending. Because of this and other programs, 55 percent of UC’s California undergrads pay no tuition.